Date: October 4, 2001
A cavalry officer was
described by a judge as "a menace behind the
wheel" for his part in the deaths of three
people, including a five-year-old girl. Major
Giles Stibbe, 43, of Chipping Norton, was cleared
of three counts of causing death by dangerous
driving at Exeter Crown Court.
The jury took just under
eight hours to reach a unanimous verdict that
Stibbe was guilty of dangerous driving but not of
causing death by dangerous driving. It was
alleged that he crossed a continuous white line
on the A350 between Yarnbrook and West Ashton
near Trowbridge while overtaking a Ford Escort
belonging to Lee and Penny Sheppard of Calne, and
When he spotted a Toyota
MR2 sports car coming in the opposite direction,
Stibbe accelerated and pulled in front of the
The Toyota driver slammed
on the brakes, lost control, hit the nearside
verge and collided with another car coming in the
opposite direction. It somersaulted into the air,
landing on its roof, and burst into flames.
Five-year-old Tamara-Jayne Sheppard; Craig
Dicker, 23, from Devizes, the driver of the
Toyota; and his passenger, Adam Lumley, 21, from
Melksham, were killed.
Tamara's brother Ben,
seven, was badly injured and will never walk
Stibbe claimed he pulled
in front of the lorry before the continuous white
"I used my triptronic
gear system to give me oomph to overtake,"
he told the police. "The MR2 came at me like
a bullet. I thought, 'My God, a boy racer,' and
completed my pull in."
The court heard that Mr
Dicker had been racing a Peugeot 309 GTi driven
by Barry Smith, who had earlier admitted
dangerous driving and been given community
service. His passenger, David May, said they had
raced Mr Dicker's Toyota at up to 90mph.
"Both parties were to
blame," he told the court. "We should
not have been racing, and he should not have been
overtaking up a hill with white lines on
After the verdict was
announced, Judge Graham Cottle revealed that
Stibbe had four previous convictions for
speeding, including one conviction two months
before the tragic crash. Judge Cottle said Stibbe
had also been cautioned in June last year for
overtaking on a bend. He was sent on a driving
improvement course but was not disqualified or
Stibbe said that he had
not seen the accident in his mirror and was
unaware of what had happened. He was caught on a
private closed-circuit television camera seconds
after the accident and was traced to his fiance's
home near Warminster, Wiltshire. Stibbe was
bailed for reports before sentencing. Judge
Cottle said he would consider sending him on
community service and an enhanced driving test.
Dennis Lumley, 49, father
of Adam, said he was disgusted with the jury's
verdict and said they should have been aware of
Stibbe's driving record. The maximum sentence for
dangerous driving is two years. Times; Wiltshire
Times; Warminster Journal; Devizes Gazette and
Herald; Daily Mail; September 2001.
Driver chased death
Smith has been ordered to carry out 100 hours of
community service after admitting dangerous
driving on the A350 in West Ashton, seconds
before a crash in which three people died.
Smith, 21, of
The Down, Trowbridge, had been chasing the Toyota
MR2 in which Craig Dicker, 23, and Adam Lumley,
21, both from Melksham, died, at speeds of up to
60mph along the A350 before the fatal accident.
Tamara-Jayne Sheppard, of Compton Bassett, also
died in the smash. Her seven-year-old brother Ben
suffered serious spinal injuries.
guilty to dangerous driving on November 9, and
the case was adjourned for sentencing reports to
defending, said Smith's driving had not caused
the fatal accident.
"Had there been a clear connection between
my client's driving and the aftermath of the
terrible accident and unfortunate loss of life to
three people, my client would have been charged
with causing death by dangerous driving."
Mr Elliott said
Smith was devastated by the accident and had
sought medical advice to cope with the trauma.
On Monday Amanda
Sawetz, prosecuting, told Chippenham magistrates
Smith was driving a Peugeot 309GTi on the evening
of July 25, when he saw a Toyota MR2 ahead on the
A350 heading towards the West Ashton crossroads
The court was
told he said: "That car's chipping,"
and accelerated after it.
passenger David May reported Smith was driving at
about 60 mph. They saw a small car behind a
tractor, which pulled out to overtake, followed
by both the MR2 and Smith's car, so the three
cars were on the wrong side of the road, Smith
driving very close to the MR2.
The driver of
the small car reported both the MR2 and Smith
overtook him immediately after he pulled in, the
Peugeot accelerating and very close behind the
Smith and the
MR2 stopped at the traffic lights at the
crossroads, and accelerated away when the lights
changed. Mr May reported he could hear the engine
The court heard
Smith quickly accelerated to 50mph just a car's
length behind the MR2.
Then they saw a
large blue lorry coming towards them, and another
car pulled out to overtake the lorry.
The MR2 braked
fiercely, with smoke coming from all four wheels
as it skidded down the hill. It veered across the
road and hit the car directly behind the lorry.
Miss Sawetz said
Smith's chasing the car in front, his speed, and
the distance from the MR2, as well as overtaking
a tractor near the brow of a hill, made his
But she added
his driving was not persistently dangerous that
day and the speed was not grossly excessive.
As well as the
community service, Smith was disqualified from
driving for 15 months from November 9, with £118
costs. He will have to take an extended driving
test before his licence is restored.