The incident happened in a heavily pedestrianised area and the van had been illegally parked on a double yellow line. Onboard camera footage clearly showed the vehicle suddenly reversing at great speed and running over the vulnerable pensioner.
Despite this, the police investigation was minimal and no charges were brought against the driver which seems incredible in retrospect given the clear evidence shown by the camera footage.
Even worse, the family were only eventually allowed access to the information the police held to help them understand what had happened after months of waiting.
The communication between the Procurator Fiscal and the family was dreadful. There were constant phone calls requesting updates to little effect and even a meeting with the procurator fiscal to demand
It is not too much to say that the family were left traumatised by a system that is weighted heavily towards protecting the accused rather than supporting the victims.
Sadly, the case is not unusual.
The bereaved in such cases do not get access to information until all criminal investigations are concluded. In this case, it was 10 months after the incident that we learned that about the video footage which clearly showed the driver to be at fault.
It is quite astonishing that no action was taken against the driver. We live in a world increasingly populated by the frail and elderly, but, in this case, their vulnerability was of little consequence and it was not perceived as careless driving.
The case raises serious questions about how we view accidents involving the vulnerable in our society and the treatment of victims and their families, by the criminal justice system.
The only way the family could get any sense of justice was through the civil court where an insurance claim found that the driver was negligent and the family received financial compensation. However, the disconnect between the criminal and civil system deepens the level of distress and the anguish of the bereaved who feel there is a lack of justice for their loved ones.
Something needs to change. We either need to have a dual process where information is provided to the family’s Solicitor at the same time as the police investigation or there needs to be a designated court to deal only with road traffic accidents.
Jodi Gordon - Associate Solicitor