Gary Cody, aged 25, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerouns drive and was sentenced to 8 1/2 years’ imprisonment on 7 February 2014.
On 20 September 2013, he was driving at almost 90mph when PC Duncan attempted to stop him during a routine speed check operation. Cody braked but hit PC Duncan at over 50mph, throwing him 35m in the air.
Cody drove away from the scene but later handed himself in to police.
Cody had 35 convictions for 88 offences.
The Croydon Guardian reported:
The impact snapped both PC Duncan’s legs and left him with serious head, chest and abdominal injuries that he died from two days later.
Comments made on remand
Whilst on remand he was overheard by a prison officer bragging about his offence.
The Croydon Guardian reported that he was heard saying, amongst other things, the following.
“do you know who I am? I’m on the news, I’m the one who ran the policeman over. I’m probably on telly all over the world.”
“it’s on YouTube, copper brown bread. You see it on there, me and the car and the copper dead in the road”. Cody then was seen to pretend to play a violin.
Cody reportedly kept newspaper clippings of the case to show other inmates.
The Judge read from a Family Impact Statement on behalf of PC Duncan’s widow:
“Our [plans] for our house, travelling and our retirement are now things I will have to face alone. He was my world, we are truly devastated.”
The Judge said: “I struggle to find anything of real benefit to be said on your behalf save from the fact you had the decency to admit your guilt. “
The relevant guidelines are the Causing death by driving guidelines (see page 11).
This is clearly a level 1 offence involving a deliberate decision to ignore the rules of the road and a disregard for the great danger thereby caused to others.
Failing to stop in order to avoid detection and the fact that the victim was performing a public service and was attempting to stop him, lawfully are clear aggravating factors. The sentence would need to be increased to reflect those factors.
Cody receive 8 1/2 years’ imprisonment. That represents a starting point of about 13 years, when taking into account the plea of guilty (for which we assume a full third credit was given).
The maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years and so readers can see that this was about as high a sentence as the Judge could have given.
Cody was also disqualified from driving for 6 years.
For this offence, the minimum term Cody had to be disqualified for was 2 years. He was in fact banned for 6 years.
Disqualification has both a punitive and a protective element.
The disqualification runs from the date of the order, i.e. 7th Feb, and so with Cody having to serve half of his 8 1/2 years (4 years 3 months), most of the disqualification will have been served whilst he is in prison.
Although it has not been reported so, Cody will also be required to pass an extended driving test if, once his ban expires, he wishes to obtain another licence.
One could expect an appeal as the Judge clearly took his starting point at or very close to the maximum sentence. However the aggravating features (the grossly excessive speed, leaving the scene, and the victim being a police officer and the callous comments whilst on remand) certainly require a heavy uplift from the 8-year starting point set out in the guidelines. Consequently, any appeal is unlikely to succeed against the term of imprisonment.
Regarding the ban, my personal view is that it could have been longer however the courts tend to view long disqualifications as ‘counter-productive’.