ONE of the country’s top judges has ordered an inquiry into why a motorist who caused a Sheffield woman’s death by dangerous driving was allowed to challenge his conviction.
Simon Chevens, aged 44, of Wood Close, Chapeltown, Sheffield, is serving seven years behind bars for killing 56-year-old June Bryce-Stephen, from Hillsborough, but was granted permission at the public expense to appeal his conviction.
His case - which cost the taxpayer around £8,000 - was thrown out of court and branded ‘hopeless’. Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, blasted Chevens’ legal team for even bringing the appeal - and said he would consider referring the matter to the Legal Services Commission.
“The reasons for which it was brought will be investigated,” the judge said.
“It is very important, in this age of austerity, to find out how this case could have proceeded as it did.”
Mrs Bryce-Stephen’s daughter, Joanne Capille, told The Star she was also incredulous Chevens had attempted to appeal.
“What is beyond belief is not only that this pathetic example of a human being could even consider an appeal, but also that it was granted,” she said. “Thank goodness the judge saw sense and sent him back to jail to finish his pathetically short sentence.
“There were at least 13 witnesses to the incident which killed my mum. They all stood up in court and gave their account. He had a fair trial and the jury were all in favour of a guilty verdict. This evil man has shown he has no remorse for what he did and no respect for his victim or our family.”
Chevens’ lawyers argued there was ‘fresh evidence’ to cast doubt on the jury’s verdict, claiming evidence not heard at court suggested he may not have been driving as fast as was claimed. Chevens was convicted on the grounds he and fellow motorist, Adam Cox, 25, weaved in and out of traffic and drove at high speeds as they raced each other on the A61 at Wadsley Bridge, Sheffield, in March 2010.
Mother and grandmother Mrs Bryce-Stephen, a teaching assistant at Hinde House school, was killed when Cox took a corner at high speed and his silver Honda Civic smashed into her Nissan Micra, as she tried to turn at a junction.
Chevens, who had passed his test just two weeks earlier, and Cox were said to have been travelling at speeds of up to 70mph in a 40mph zone, undertaking other motorists. Cox, of Stannington, Sheffield, was jailed for five years after he admitted causing death by dangerous driving - but Chevens denied the offence and was convicted by jurors. His lawyers claimed fresh evidence cast doubt on the testimony of two eye-witnesses relating to his speed in the final 100 metres before the fatal crash.
But, in a stinging judgment, Sir John said the evidence was ‘irrelevant’ to the main issue - whether Chevens had been racing with Cox. He said that, even if the fresh evidence did throw doubt on Chevens’ speed in the final seconds, it made ‘no conceivable difference’ to the manner of his driving on the previous stretch of road.