BREDA/TILBURG – The traffic light on the ring road had been red for nine seconds when, according to the prosecutor, a 38-year-old Tilburg citizen drove through it in his car at a speed of between 117 and 145 kilometers per hour and under the influence of drugs. With fatal consequences for a 61-year-old cyclist, a 72-year-old cyclist barely survived.
The collision on the Ringbaan-Oost took place on December 21, 2022, shortly after noon at the intersection with the Gelrebaan. When the driver ran a red light, a 72-year-old cyclist crossed the intersection. The woman was on her way to the city to buy a last Christmas present for her granddaughter, it turned out in the Breda court on Friday afternoon.
She was in a coma for five days, suffered many fractures and part of her leg had to be amputated. Her daughter read a statement on behalf of her mother. This showed how difficult the road she has traveled since the accident has been. “My family thought they had to give me up, everything indicated that I would die.”
I have no feelings of hatred but I do hope you get your punishment. You didn’t get me under it
On the other hand, her words sounded combative: “You couldn’t get me down. Together with my family I fought and became who I am.” And: “I have no feelings of hatred, but I do hope that you get your punishment. I sympathize with your family, especially your mother. She got a life sentence just like me.”
The judge asked the Tilburg citizen who caused the accident what he thought of the words. “I can’t say anything about this.”
Cannabis and hashish in car
Shortly before, the judge had questioned him about a number of matters. The man admitted that he does not have a driver’s license, never had one and had previously been reprimanded by the court for this. He also admitted to regularly using soft drugs. “But not that day.” The police found cannabis and hashish in his car after the accident.
I didn’t know how fast I could drive there, I thought I was driving outside the built-up area
The judge: “Is it true that you are visually impaired?” He: “That’s right.” The judge: “Is it true that you ran a red light?” He: “No, I think it was green.” Only to say shortly afterwards that he didn’t see the traffic light at all. The judge: “The police have conducted extensive investigations which show that you were driving between 117 and 145 kilometers per hour. Is that right?” He: “No. And I didn’t know how fast I could drive there, I thought I was driving outside the built-up area.” A little later: “I didn’t realize I was driving so fast.”
A maximum speed of 50 kilometers per hour applies on the Ringbaan-Oost. After the driver hit the cyclist, he lost control and rammed a tree, a billboard and the facade of a house a few dozen meters away. He then hit a second cyclist, a 61-year-old man from Tilburg, who was riding on the cycle path. The collision was fatal for the victim. No relatives of his were present during the hearing.
The driver climbed out of his car and tried to walk away in vain. After investigation at the police station, he turned out to be under the influence of THC, the active substance in cannabis and hashish. He also did not wear glasses or contact lenses while driving.
‘Disobeying traffic rules’
According to himself, the Tilburg citizen had gotten into the car to take a laptop from work, which he had to return urgently. The judge: “Under those circumstances you deliberately took risks. You do not have a driver’s license, have used cannabis and are driving through a red light. All to drop off a laptop?”
He ignored traffic rules that day and did not care at all about other road users
Paul Emmen, officer
Justice finds manslaughter and attempted manslaughter proven. Not that the man deliberately set out to cause victims, said officer Paul Emmen. But he believes that with his driving behavior the driver took the risk that there could be casualties. “He ignored traffic rules that day and did not care at all about other road users.” Justice demands nine years in prison and a driving ban for ten years.
Counsel Fleur de Graaf argued that there was no intent on the part of her client. She spoke of ‘overconfidence with terrible consequences’ and risks that her client had not foreseen. Moreover, according to her, the exceedances of the THC value in his blood were limited. She pleaded for acquittal for manslaughter and attempted manslaughter, asked the court to judge the collision as a traffic accident and to impose a much lower sentence.
At the time of the fatal accident, the Tilburg citizen was on probation for attempted serious assault, because he had rammed a car into an officer on Spoorlaan in Tilburg. He had drunk too much. Justice wants him to now also serve the three-month suspended sentence that he still had outstanding.
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