Thursday, 28 June 2012

Joao Lopes guilty of causing death by dangerous driving

Mr Lopes was the driver behind the wheel of the lorry that cut tragically short the life of Eilidh Cairns on 5th February 2009 as she rode her bicycle through Notting Hill Gate.  The sole charge pursued against Mr Lopes arising from Eilidh's death was that of driving with defective vision for which he was fined £200.  It was Eilidh's family who pressed the police to test Lopes's eyesight and her sister Kate Cairns has been campaigning tirelessly for safer lorries.

It transpires that in June 2011 Mr Lopes was driving a lorry that struck and killed a 97 year old woman pedestrian, Nora Gutmann, a holocaust survivor.  For some months many of us (though not Private Eye) have been keeping quiet about this connection for fear that it might prejudice a jury at a future trial.

However no trial is now required.  Lopes has pleaded guilty at Isleworth Crown Court to causing the death of Nora Gutmann by dangerous driving and also to falsifying the data on his tachograph.

The investigation into the death of Eilidh Cairns did not, on any view, go as it should have done.  I know that I have the benefit of hindsight but it is nonetheless surely right to point out that those who choose to, or not to, prosecute drivers following fatal crashes involving vulnerable road users have a heavy burden of responsibility to ensure that dangerous drivers are removed from our roads.

Lopes has been remanded in custody where he awaits sentence due to be passed on 1st August.


  1. Aren't HGV drivers subject to health checks to make sure they are fit to drive?

    If not, why not? And why, if he was convicted of "driving with defective vision" in 2009, was he still driving a lorry in 2011?

    The mind boggles.

  2. The more I read your blog, the more disheartened I become with this "justice", it strikes me that crimes against cyclists are treated as not being as serious as crimes against other road users.
    Cyclist killed by a HGV driver charge driving with defective vision £200.
    I am sure that if a person with a rifle killed another person and claimed they couldn't see them because of defective vision they would not be given a £200 fine.

  3. It's so sad, but I came again to read about this news... because of sharing the same name with the driver (as nationality).
    These shows the results of terrible driving education, laws, and tolerance to "errors"...

    There's a still a inverted hierarchy on road laws... and the heaviest are still the ones less brought to responsibility ..