Staffordshire Family Injured In Christmas Taxi Crash Speak Out Angrily After Driver Is Sentenced

Expert Calls On Cab Drivers To Make Safety A Priority

01.06.2011

A family of six seriously injured in a horrific taxi crash just three days before Christmas say a £250 fine for the cab driver responsible amounts to little more than a 'slap on the wrist'.

Four out of six members of the family from Burntwood in Staffordshire were hospitalised over Christmas and New Year. They had been out for a festive meal at the Terrazza restaurant in Rugeley, but their journey home turned to terror when their taxi careered out of control on an icy road and collided with a tree.

Bernard Bishop, a taxi driver with Burntwood based A1 Taxis; pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and was given a £250 fine and six penalty points on his licence.

Following today’s sentencing at Burton Magistrates Court, a road accident legal expert with Irwin Mitchell says the incident must serve as a warning to taxi and mini cab drivers who ignore poor road conditions and put the safety of their passengers at risk.

All six passengers were rushed to hospital following the horrific crash which happened on the A51 Rugeley to Lichfield road at 11.15pm on 22nd December 2010.

Richard Littley (55) suffered a back and hip fracture as well as a head injury. He underwent a full hip replacement on Christmas Eve and remained in hospital until 2nd January 2011.

His wife, Elizabeth Littley (52) was admitted to the Intensive Trauma Unit at the Queen’s Hospital in Burton after suffering 13 broken ribs and a collapsed lung.  Daughter, Sonya Bagley (21) suffered multiple fractures to her arm and needed a plate and 14 screws to repair the damage. She is still undergoing treatment with a hand specialist due to extensive nerve damage and has to wear a splint both day and night to help her wrist and fingers heal.

Jonathan Fisher (23) boyfriend of Sonya Bagley underwent a number of operations on both his left leg and right arm, both of which were badly fractured during the accident and he was not discharged from hospital until 4th January 2011.

Laura Bagley (24) and her boyfriend Jack Stoneman (24), both suffered relatively minor physical injuries, but Jack continues to undergo physiotherapy for whiplash, whilst Laura has spent the past five months trying to balance the pressures of university work with caring for her more seriously injured family as they still today, five months on, continue to recover from the major injuries they received that night.

Kate Campbell, a road accident legal specialist with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors in Birmingham, who is representing the family, commented: “The Littleys did the responsible thing by booking a taxi so that they could enjoy a Christmas meal together, only to have their trust abused by the driver, which resulted in their Christmas and New Year celebrations being completely ruined.”

“It is known that the road conditions that night were extremely icy and the family has told us that the taxi driver did not appear to take this into account. In the moments leading up to the crash, Elizabeth claims she had begged the driver to slow down as, in her opinion, he was going far too fast, but he failed to do so.

“Five months on, they continue to live with both the physical and psychological damage of what happened that night.

“Now that criminal proceedings are complete, I very much hope that the defendant’s insurers will work with us to ensure that the separate ongoing civil proceedings are settled at the earliest opportunity to spare the family any further distress.”

Speaking on behalf of the family, Richard Littley commented: “What should have been a memorable family night out will be remembered for all the wrong reasons – we will never be able to forget what happened and have both the physical and mental scars which will remain with us for a very long time to come.

“We put our trust in the taxi driver to take us home safely and he let us down very badly. Today’s sentencing is, as far as I’m concerned, little more than a slap on the wrist and I’m so annoyed that the defendant will be able to return to life very much as normal, whilst we continue to live with the devastation that he caused.”