Thought I'd add a line or two to this thread.
Originally Posted by codprawn
[url]Why is it these days that - no matter what happens - accidents are never just accidents???
You often here of someone being prosecuted for "killing their girlfriend or mate" in a car crash etc. What the hell does it achieve???
The word accident is not useful in terms of understanding the cause of crashes (air, road, rail or sea) largely due to the populist belief that "accidents happen" and are therefore not attributable to human behaviour in the face of danger. In road crash investigation the term accident is often replaced with "rare, random, multi-factored event" purely to allow all the components to be considered without undue emphasis being placed upon the hand of God. This analysis allows for environmental factors (wet road, sharp bend, parked car etc.) to be considered alongside mechanical factors (bald tyre, brake pads down to the metal etc.) and psychological or driver related factors (inexperience, overconfidence, driving too fast and so on). Furthermore, it is possible to break driving mistakes into two broad groups - innocent "errors", arising when circumstances are mis-read and poor judgements made and deliberate "violations", occuring when a driver consciously choses to compromise or disregard the safety of his/herself and others for the sake of perceived advantage or making progress. Clearly the law tries to distinguish the "innocent" mistake from the "deliberate" act of endangerment, with mixed success.
Unfortunately car driving is an inherently safe activity and, whilst not foolproof, is surprisingly idiot friendly. Most of the time "we" get away with it, which is why the granny state has so little success with its tedious road safety campaigns exhorting us to slow down, drink less beer and wear seat belts etc. Nonetheless around 3,500 people will die on the roads each year, a significant number falling victim to deliberate acts of excessive, selfish and ill advised behaviour. Behaviour which was never pursued with the sole regard of causing death or injury, behaviour which has probably been indulged in thousands of times previously, but behaviour which has suddenly resulted in unforseen consequences. Behaviour indeed from which we have every right to be protected.
If we apply this model of human behaviour in potentially dangerous circumstances to ribs / fast water craft etc. we can easily find several significant similarities: it seems very safe, fun and harmless, but things can and do go wrong very quickly - especially when poor judgement, inexperience and or overconfidence play a part.
Cod's question remains - what does prosecution achieve? At the very least prosecution should acknowledge that sometimes innocent mistakes can lead to fatal consequences - such reminders might just be useful to the rest of us. More importantly, where the law can discern that a deliberate act of risk taking resulted in the loss of a life, the full weight of the law should be brought to bear to reflect the seriousness with which we view the crime.