Saturday, 20 November 2010

Kennington Killer finally banned for life (and 7 years in jail)

In June 2009 Dennis Putz, drunk driver of a 32-tonne tipper truck, killed cyclist Catriona Patel by Oval tube station at the junction of Kennington Park Road and Harleyford Street. He's been sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from driving for life.

But, when you find out his driving history, I expect you'll be asking how the hell the authorities allowed him to have a licence to drive a 32-tonne lorry and how many similar drivers are legally permitted to drive on our streets.

The Streatham Guardian states, "It was revealed during the trial that he had 20 previous disqualifications, three drink drive convictions and three previous convictions for reckless driving."

London Cycling Campaign reported:
The court heard that Putz had been jailed twice before for driving offences, a six-month sentence in 1995 for reckless driving and, in 2003, after 16 counts of driving a lorry while disqualified.
He was first disqualified from driving as a teenager, but still managed to get a licence and work as a HGV driver.

I expect you're also wondering about the recruitment and operating standards that companies operating this type of lorry have. Companies such as Thames Materials Ltd., Dennis Putz's employers.

I'm sure there would be a public inquiry if such appallingly lax standards resulted in a train crash. In 2009 there were just over 222,000 road casualties in Great Britain, with 26,912 people killed or seriously injured. This is surely unacceptable.

Is it any wonder that people prefer to cycle on traffic-free routes such as the Thames Path instead of the adjoining A road alongside St Thomas' Hospital.

I have received another email from a parent replying to my request for volunteers to send their children to ride this road, given the local politician's plan to ban cycling on the Thames Path.

"I am definitely not going to let my daughter, who daily cycles to school, do your proposed journey."

I think the parent shows admirable common sense given that the licensing authorities and employers allow people like Dennis Putz drive 32-tonne lorries on our local roads.


Paul M said...

You didn't mention that The Traffic Commissioenrs attempted to revoke Thames Materials' operating licence some years ago, and that the company successfully appealed the decision. I haven't felt inclined to plough through the many pages of the judgement but the distincy impression I get is that the appelate tribunal felt it haad no choice due to poor quality documentation of either the commisioners' decision or their defence of the appeal - a technicality, in other words.

Fact is, companies like Thames Materials should be driven off the roads altogether, but how do do that in the face of incompetence and indifference in our traffic authorities?

LCC has what it claims is a successful campaign on "no more lethal lorries" - as the principal organised campaign group in London (bloggers don't quite cut it in that respect) could it not orchestrate a campaign specifically against Thames Materials? Get questions asked in parliament or the London Assembly for example, appeal to its customers to change suppliers etc?

I for one would certainly be happy to write to my local assembly member to urge him on.

Dave Lukes said...

I didn't realise that they'd nearly had their operator's license repealed.

Annoyingly, unlike, say Waterloo Cars,
where the offence is ongoing and obvious, it's a bit difficult to "orchestrate a campaign" based on one incident.

Also, I suspect LCC might be a bit loth to get involved at this level,
since it would detract attention from the general issue and allow accusations of bias.

Also, "bloggers don't quite cut it"?
Well ... they seem to have in the case of Waterloo Cars, so who's to say what we can or can't achieve unless we try?

Maybe some sustained digging will unearth enough dirt to either get them off the roads permanently, or clean up their act.