Jessica Morden Jessica Morden - Labour MP for Newport East, Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and PPS to Keir Starmer
Today I was very pleased to co-sponsor a bill from my Welsh Labour colleague Gerald Jones which aims to change the law so that driving offences on private land can be prosecuted in the same way as those on public roads.
The bill follows the case of 22 month old Pearl from South Wales who was killed whilst walking with her father and sibling to a park in 2017. Her death was caused by an unoccupied vehicle that rolled from a private drive down a hill, crashing into a wall and crushing her whilst injuring her father and sibling.
South Wales Police have worked to put a case together for the driver of the vehicle to be held accountable, as all tests concluded that the car was mechanically sound and that it rolled because the handbrake was not fully engaged, and the automatic transmission not fully placed into park. Under police questioning, the owner of the vehicle admitted he did not fully engage the handbrake for fear of ‘over-extending the handbrake cable’.
However, the CPS were unable to send the case to court as a glitch in the law states that a vehicle has to be on a public road in order to make a prosecution under ‘Death by Dangerous Driving’ legislation.
Speaking ahead of the introduction of his bill today, Gerald Jones MP said “Even though Pearl was killed on a public road, the fact that the vehicle started its descent from a private drive has allowed the driver of the car to escape any kind of conviction. The inquest into Pearl’s death was heard in October and the outcome was accident; however, with the encouragement of both the Police and the CPS, Pearl’s parents want to get this law changed.”
I’m pleased to support Gerald’s bill and I pay tribute to the work he is doing, alongside the Police and the CPS, to amend this anomaly in the law which is an obstacle to justice for driving offences. A change in the law sadly won’t bring a resolution to the tragic case Gerald has mentioned, but could prevent this sort of injustice from reoccurring in the future.