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Livia Galli-Atkinson
Livia Galli-Atkinson, fatally injured 12 January 1998


Livia Galli-Atkinson
"Our daughter Livia left home at 1855 on 12 January 1998, to attend her 1915 ballet class. At 1905, she lay dying on the pavement on which she was walking, just 25 metres from her school. At 1940 she was dead. She was 16-years-old.

A driver had mounted the pavement on her south side and travelled along it for nearly 40 metres without braking. He had first demolished, and driven over, a two-metre metal post and injured another pedestrian, before hitting and dragging Livia to her death.

The injuries she sustained were horrific. We saw them.

The driver was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. He was fined £2,000, given ten points and a five-year ban – penalties within the death by careless driving range, not the charge brought nor the charge pleaded.

He pleaded not guilty while admitting to the police that he knew he was driving on a pavement, and gambled his right to silence by declining to testify. Speed, drink and drugs were not issues. Sleep was, but it was supposition, and not admissible.

An appeal against the unduly lenient sentence was lodged with the Attorney General by the family and Crown Prosecution. Leave to appeal was declined.

The family took the Attorney General to Judicial Review on the grounds of unreasonableness - the High Court found that for the purpose of the hearings, it was an unduly lenient sentence and the Attorney General had made an error of judgment in denying the family leave to appeal. However, he had not made an error of law.

The family turned to the European Court of Human Rights to test the veracity and objectivity of the right to have life protected by law, as well as other articles. Livia’s case failed.

The loss of a child is painful under any circumstance, but when the loss is caused by unforeseen, violent circumstances, the experience of pain is excruciatingly traumatic and tragic. The least to be expected is that a court will make death the central issue, that it will not justify death as an unfortunate outcome of momentary loss of attention and acceptable collateral damage.

When innocents like Livia are driven six feet under by those who are allowed their negligence with leniency, families’ priorities change, and when the system to which they have no option but to entrust themselves lets them down, it must be challenged."

George and Giulietta Galli-Atkinson, Livia's parents.
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