Posted on July 11, 2007

When ‘dogged pursuit’ turns into ‘lunatic obsession’

Welsh teacher Paul Davies drove like an idiot in May 2006. This isn’t especially surprising – if you’re a driver and claim you’ve never driven like an idiot, then you’re an arrogant liar.

Unlike most people who drive like idiots, Mr Davies was unlucky: he span out of control and hit another car, driven by a man named Kelvin Palmer. Mr Palmer was unluckier still, breaking assorted bits of himself in the crash and having to spend several months in hospital.

The police and CPS were initially reluctant to bring charges, on the basis that there wasn’t much evidence that Mr Davies had done anything terribly appalling [side note on press competence: the crash has universally been reported as a '120mph' crash. The testimony in court from experienced drivers was that Mr Davies was driving at 80-90mph - a 22-year-old nurse was the only witness to suggest the 120mph figure].

Mr Palmer doggedly pursued them until they did. Which is sort-of fair enough: the guy did drive like a twat, and did fuck Mr Palmer over royally. And it’s just about possible that enough prosecutions of people who drive like twats and are unlucky to have a serious accident will deter people from driving like twats generally (albeit incredibily unlikely, given the evidence across the criminal justice realm that draconian punishment has next to no effect unless people perceive a serious chance of getting caught). Eventually, Mr Davies was convicted and sent to prison.

However, that’s not the end of the story. Mr Davies is a good teacher – so good that the parents at his school have lobbied the governors of his school to not sack him. And indeed, the governors have decided to keep his job open until his release in the autumn.

Some people, me included, might be glad to see a good man who’s making a valuable contribution to society not having his life totally ruined for a moment of mild idiocy crossed with bad luck. Mr Palmer, however, is lobbying to get Mr Davies sacked. I think that’s the point where ‘quest for justice’ becomes ‘being an utter cunt’.