Why has this guy been sentenced to jail?

In this story, a 21-year-old English soccer player was driving on the motorway on Boxing Day when he crashed into another car, killing a father of five. He later told police he had been changing the song on his MP3 Player which distracted him. He admitted “causing death by dangerous driving” and has just been sentenced to 32 months in prison.

Two and a half years in prison? Because he got momentarily distracted at the wheel? It’s a tragic accident and he should have been concentrating more carefully, but I can’t see how momentarily distracting yourself at the wheel merits that length of prison sentence. Am I missing something?

He killed someone. Kind of obvious, isn’t it?

As dumb excuses go, “setting the MP3 player” is down there with “texting.”

Maybe the fact that another man died as a result of that pointless and unnecessary distraction. We generally punish people who negligently cause death here in the UK.


You need to ask? A person is dead because some person was not paying sufficient attention behind the wheel of a vehicle. That lack of attention caused the death of another person. Those facts seem irrefutable.

Seems the sentence isn’t long enough in my view.

I don’t even see it as an “accident”. Sure he didn’t mean to have the crash, but he was deliberately and purposefully doing something he knew was distracting. AND someone dies. How does that NOT warrant enough jail time to think it over?

What if he was shooting a gun at random trees and, looking down to turn up the volume on his Mp3 player earbuds, kept firing, and the bullets hit a small child mathematical genius being raised by nuns (substitute your own idea of most outrageously unfair death)?

You say he should stop shooting for a second if he’s not looking?

Same principle applies to driving – pull over to fiddle. You shoot where you’re not looking, you hit things you didn’t mean to. Same with driving.

Incidentally, I am in agreement with your general idea that a momentary lapse should be punished less harshly than an ongoing pattern of deliberate criminal activity; I just happen to think this sentence IS less than he’d get for being a serial killer. But in other threads I’ve mentioned my belief that a one-time woman-slapping football player is qualitatively different from, say, Michael Vick organizing and funding an ongoing crime ring for several years.

Moved from General Questions to Great Debates.

General Questions Moderator

As has been already said, he wasn’t distracted-he caused the distraction deliberately.


It’s not as if a deer leapt out of the woods on the side of the road, distracting him and he crashed into someone.

It’s prolly not even accurate to say he caused a distraction at all; he was simply negligent by not piloting the great mass of metal he had set into motion, however momentarily. And because that negligence caused a death, he is (rightly, IMO) in jail.

I’m with the OP. I can’t see how changing the song on an mp3 player is any more of a distraction than fiddling with any setting on the dashboard panel. Unless you guys think no one should ever adjust anything on the dashboard, ever, at least while driving, then this guy should not be in jail.

I think the point is that if fiddling with any setting on the dashboard is distraction enough to cause an accident where someone dies, then yes - they shouldn’t have been doing it while driving.

I’d give him 3 months. No matter how long the sentence is, the person will still be dead. The question is if this driver needs to be removed from society for society’s protection. I say no. A punitive 3 months is enough to make him see straight.

When you get behind the wheel, your primary (and some say only) job is to drive safely. Anything else you may do while driving takes away your attention from your primary job. At that point, you should not be driving. If you cause injury or death to someone else because you were not doing your primary job, you should be held accountable.

A 21-year old will spend 32 months in jail for this. Too bad. The victim’s family lost a father forever.

OTOH, he ended a man’s life, leaving 5 children fatherless and a woman without her sworn life-partner. She now has sole responsibility for raising those 5 kids, a task that will not end for years and years.

I’d say 3 months is waaaaaaaay too short, and even 2.5 years isn’t much compared to the years she and her children have to live with altered lives because he didn’t want to listen to whatever song was playing on his iPod.

Yeah - it’s not like a member of your family was killed.

Plain and simple, he’s guilty of negligence.
Several definitions:

-failure to act with the prudence that a reasonable person would exercise under the same circumstances
-The tort whereby a duty of reasonable care was breached, causing damage
-characterized by neglect and undue lack of concern
-Careless, without appropriate or sufficient attention
-The failure to use the degree of care that is required by law to protect others from harm.
-In its broadest sense, carelessness.
-Failure to exercise care, resulting in injury to others or damage to property.
-Failure to use reasonable due care to avoid a foreseeable harm to a person, place, or thing.
-A failure to conform your conduct in a situation to the level of care expected of the hypothetical reasonable person, where that failure is the proximate cause of injury to another.
-Imprudent action or omission which may cause injury, damage or loss.
-Failure to exercise ordinary care or caution.

He was doing something everyone knows is stupid and dangerous that was, additionally, totally unnecessary. In doing so, he gratuitously killed someone who was doing nothing wrong. That’s not a tragic accident; it’s gross negligence. Killing someone through gross negligence is manslaughter in most jurisdictions, and it typically carries a prison sentence. That’s why the guy has been sentenced to jail.

If there were some sort of extenuating circumstance for him focusing on something inside the car instead of where he was piloting the huge, deadly mass of metal (like a kid puking in the backseat or something), he might not have gotten prison time.

This is what I’m saying. We don’t know that he failed to act with reasonable prudence. Reasonable people prudently adjust things on their dashboard as a matter of course millions of times every day. We don’t know that this guy was doing so imprudently. Unless every act of dashboard-fiddling is imprudent.

To know whether it was imprudent or not, we’d need to know what traffic looked like from his vantage point at the time of the act. We don’t know what it looked like.

The article says he was trying to change the songs on his iPod. I’ve never owned or tried to operate an iPod, but aren’t those portable, hand-held devices? Are they ever installed in automobiles? It sounds like this might have been more than just twiddling knobs on the dashboard, but fucking around with a toy that had nothing to do with the car itself, and could have easily waited until he wasn’t driving.