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.