Adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has been the subject of criticism over the last couple of days after hearing that he will escape a driving ban for causing a road traffic accident that left another motorist with serious injuries.
Sir Ranulph, 66, was returning from the 42-mile High Peak Marathon on March 6th this year when he momentarily ‘fell asleep’ at the wheel of his X-type Jaguar, which struck Luigi Castaldo’s Nissan Micra with such force that it was pitched into a roll. Although his ten year old son, who was also a passenger in the car, escaped injury, Mr Castaldo himself was transferred to intensive care after the accident and still has trouble walking unaided.
However, in court it came to light that he was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, which undoubtedly contributed to his injuries. If Mr Castaldo is considering claiming compensation for his injuries from Sir Ranulph, this fact could count against him heavily.
Contributory negligence often has the effect of lowering an award made by the court in the event of such an occurrence. It is obvious that, had he been wearing his seatbelt, Mr Castaldo’s injuries would have been much lighter.
However, this does not absolve Sir Ranulph of liability. The former army officer, who climbed to the summit of Everest only last year, has at no point tried to excuse or deflect the blame away from himself. However, even the prosecution admitted that Sir Ranulph is not ‘a normal human being.’
This argument may well be true in some ways, but on the road all standards need to be applied equally. An article in the Manchester Evening News expressed the opinion that Sir Ranulph must be treated just like any other road user. The newspaper recalls a similar defence being offered by Gary Hart, the man who caused the death of ten people in the Selby train crash when, having fallen asleep at the wheel, his Land Rover drifted off the road and on to train tracks of the East Coast main line. He had been up all night talking to woman he had befriended on the internet, and the judge branded his claim that he didn’t need to sleep like other people ‘arrogant.’
In the end, the charge of dangerous driving was not brought against Sir Ranulph, with the lesser charge of driving without due care and attention being applied instead. He was fined £1000 and his license was endorsed with four penalty points, something that angered Mr Castaldo:
“It is absolute rubbish, it sounds like they were defending him. I can’t believe he (the prosecution) said that.”
A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service offered an apology, stressing that the comment was merely meant to clarify why the lesser charge was being brought, and that no offence was caused.
Sir Ranulph may have escaped serious punishment, but Mr Castaldo, as mentioned already, can make a claim for compensation to redress the balance of his life after the accident, which has left him with both physical and psychological injuries, even though his eventual award may be less than expected thanks to the reasons outlined.
Source: Manchester News