Two and a half years of absolute imprisonment and a lifetime ban on driving. Such a verdict was heard on Friday by a cyclist who fatally ran into a pedestrian on the sidewalk and fled the scene.
The verdict was handed down in the Warsaw Praga-Południe District Court. The defendant in the case was 47-year-old Rafał K., who did not appear in the courtroom on Friday. Investigators accused him of riding a bicycle in Saska Kępa on September 7, 2018, fatally hit a pedestrian walking along the sidewalk. Later he escaped. Before that, he was supposed to throw insults at a seriously injured woman lying on the pavement. Witnesses reported: “He shouted to the pedestrian: old woman, how do you walk!”; “He screamed that this stupid woman got stuck under his bike.”
Before his escape, he managed to approach the paramedics and tell them: “it’s the pedestrian’s fault”. Before the police arrived, he left the scene. The shouts of witnesses who tried to stop him did not help. The woman died in the hospital.
On Friday, judge Aneta Karpoń-Rosik ruled that only the cyclist was guilty in this case.
What happened in Saska Kępa?
On a warm Saturday afternoon, there were a lot of people in Saska Kepa, near the Washington roundabout. Rafał K. got on his bike right after leaving the bus and, according to witnesses, he set off very quickly along the sidewalk in the direction of Francuska. At the same time, 62-year-old Barbara left the underpass with a shopping cart. The man who, according to the experts, had 29 kilometers per hour on the meter of his bicycle, drove into a pedestrian.
The 62-year-old fell on the pavement. She banged her head on the concrete. Several people ran up to her, including three women who had previously traveled with the accused by bus. At that time, Rafał K. was taking his bicycle off the woman. The pedestrian kept her eyes open, but there was no contact with her. Tears ran down her cheeks.
As the judge pointed out, the defendant’s guilt is “beyond any doubt”.
– The accused, not being careful, moving with excessive speed and not respecting the provisions of the road traffic law, struck with force at the injured Mrs. Barbara, who was on the pavement and undoubtedly had priority. The accused stood aside, ignored the victim lying on the sidewalk, made voice calls, where he insulted the other victim, considering that she was guilty – justified the judge.
– After the arrival of the ambulance, the defendant continued to disregard the seriousness of the situation, tried to convince the ambulance worker that the incident was solely due to the fault of the pedestrian – she added.
The prosecutor asked for four years
Prosecutor Kamil Patalon, even before the sentence was announced, had requested four years in a cyclist’s prison. – In addition, awarding compensation for harm to the closest person in the amount of ten thousand zlotys, as well as a life ban on driving any motor vehicles – postulated the prosecutor.
Additionally, he demanded that the judgment be made public. – Due to the need for the public impact of the judgment and the frequency of events in which pedestrians are injured on the sidewalks – he explained.
“He chose the sidewalk, saving his life”
– Four years is a conviction for heavy robbery, intentional, severe beating, deliberate, but it is definitely not a penalty for a road accident in which the driver was sober, who chose the sidewalk, saving his life. He was in danger, if he chose Washington Avenue, his life would be in danger, because you don’t ride a bike there, said Maciej Bąk, the defender of the defendant. The lawyer suggested that the court “significantly ease the sentence proposed by the prosecutor’s office”.
Maciej Bąk also pointed out that his client pleaded guilty and provided explanations. – The court should take into account the following circumstances. First of all, the accused did not ride on the sidewalk for fun, it was not a desire to show off in front of someone. There was a disaster on the sidewalk when the accused was going to work – said the lawyer. There was one thing he was wrong, except that he was driving on the sidewalk, he thought the collision could be avoided. He thought in his imagination that he could get past the lady who was walking with the pram. He couldn’t say why he hadn’t missed her. Is that supposed to cost four years in prison? – He was asking.
He argued that in this case we were not dealing with “a settlement” with a “street brawl”, but with an unfortunate accident. – I am far from whitewashing the accused, saying: it is not him. But what happened next? After this incident, the accused leaned over you, tried to orientate himself, wanted to help, he was immediately driven away. The accused left, but when? If he wanted to run away, just run away, he would abandon the bike, run nowhere and he would not be there anymore. He was waiting. He waited for help to be given. An ambulance came, he got lost, he drove away – argued attorney Bąk.
He also referred to the prosecutor’s office’s demand that the verdict be made public. “But the public message should be brought to the police first, though.” So that I don’t have to look back (as a pedestrian – ed.). This standard is not respected and is not required, he said.
The judgment made public
The court, in addition to an absolute sentence of imprisonment for two and a half years and a lifetime ban on driving motor vehicles, decided that Rafał K. should pay an interest to the brother of the deceased woman. The judgment will be made public.
– The court does not share the line of defense that the accused did not provide assistance to the victim due to the fact that he was being pulled away by witnesses. Due to his behavior, the witnesses told him not to come closer, because he simply insulted her and blamed her for the situation, argued the judge.
The mitigating circumstance was the clean criminal record of the accused and the presentation of a bunk. – He did not make it difficult, he admitted, therefore, in the opinion of the court, the penalty proposed by the prosecutor’s office would be an excessively severe penalty – added the judge. And she reminded that the regulations indicate that in the event of a runaway from the scene, the court is obliged to order a lifetime ban on driving any motor vehicles. In the light of the law, a bicycle is not a motor vehicle.
The judgment is not final.
Main photo source: Mateusz Szmelter / tvnwarszawa.pl