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HMA v Dawid Zywicki


Dec 19, 2023

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Scott sentenced Dawid Zywicki to 9 years imprisonment after the offender pled guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

On sentencing Lord Scott made the following remarks in court:

"Dawid Zywicki, on 14 November, you pled guilty to a charge that, on 27 March 2022, you caused the death of Margaret Pearson and caused serious injury to Kevin O'Neill by driving dangerously and when your ability to drive was impaired due to the proportion of alcohol in your blood, that being more than 3 times the drink drive limit. You drove at excessive speed without wearing a seat belt, failed to keep your vehicle in its correct lane, entered the opposing lane, failed to brake or take any other evasive action, caused your vehicle to collide head on with the taxi being driven in the opposing lane by Mr Anwar, which in turn caused his car to collide with both Kevin O'Neill, a pedestrian on the roadway carrying out a repair to his stationary motor car, and with his car, causing damage to all of the vehicles, causing injury to Mr Anwar, causing serious injury to Kevin O'Neill, and causing injuries to Mr Anwar’s passenger, Margaret Pearson, which were so severe that she died on 31 March 2022.

You were driving while disqualified and without insurance. You have never held a full driving licence.

You were on bail from 21 September 2021 for drink-driving, driving while disqualified and driving without due care and attention.

As on the 7 other occasions when your driving has resulted in convictions, you should not have been behind the wheel of any motor vehicle for reasons that are obvious to everyone else but apparently not to you.

I have seen the Victim Impact Statements from Margaret Pearson’s daughters, Wilma, Angela and Maryam. They describe the significant and lasting damage done to them, to their father for whom, as a loving wife, Mrs Pearson was the primary carer, to Mrs Pearson’s 4 grandchildren and to the rest of the family. Their description of the impact of the Covid restrictions on seeing their mother in her last 4 days is extremely moving. Their lives have been changed dramatically and their mental health continues to suffer from the trauma caused by you. Wilma is in the process of giving up her work so she can assume full-time caring responsibilities for their father who has vascular dementia. In words that seem to capture the impact on them all, Wilma says:

“As an individual and as a daughter, I am broken.”

Before passing sentence, I decided to obtain a Criminal Justice Social Work Report.  I did not require to obtain such a report in view of your schedule of previous convictions which features a previous custodial sentence in 2022 for directly analogous matters. Most of your offending has been for road traffic matters, including serious examples of these. A custodial sentence was inevitable but your history of offending is a significant aggravating factor.

Despite your plea of guilty, the CJSWR suggests that you have “created a false narrative about these offences in an attempt to diminish your personal culpability for the harm you have caused”.

The CJSWR says:

“The index offences represent a serious and tragic escalation in Mr Zywicki’s long history of road traffic violations…

Mr Zywicki’s history of driving convictions suggests that he is an impulsive, reckless and selfish risk taker, who purposely drives without any consideration for the safety of other road users and pedestrians. The extent of the risk Mr Zywicki represents to the public is tragically highlighted by the matters now before the court…

Mr Zywicki’s attitude towards his victims fluctuated from one of superficial remorse to attempting to apportion blame on others for the death of Ms Pearson…”

The report provides me with background information about you. It confirms that, on the night of 27 March 2022, you were under the influence of alcohol. Indeed, whatever you said to the social worker, you were clearly impaired by this.

As I am sure you know, being under the influence of alcohol is no excuse at all. Indeed, it is another aggravating factor.

Your account of what happened as reflected in the CJSWR, perhaps affected by your state of intoxication and reluctance to accept meaningful personal responsibility, is at odds with the narrative agreed on your behalf. For the avoidance of doubt, I proceed to sentence on the basis of the agreed narrative.

I have considered and take into account the terms of the CJSWR and all that has been carefully said on your behalf today by Mr Nelson.  He has rightly acknowledged the gravity of the charges and the inevitability of a custodial sentence. He has submitted that your remorse is genuine and that, due to language difficulties, your true position has been misunderstood by the author of the CJSWR.  He rightly emphasised your early plea of guilty which is the only significant aspect of mitigation. I recognise that you too suffered serious injury but can afford little weight to that in the circumstances, especially your own decision not to wear a seatbelt. Mr Nelson offered a helpful analysis of the relevant sentencing guidelines, recognising that this case falls into a category towards the top end of seriousness with significant aggravating factors and little by way of mitigation.

He acknowledged what is indicated from the guidelines for this case, namely that there is a significant level of culpability or blame due to your impairment due to alcohol consumption, driving at excessive speed, and the serious injuries to Mr O’Neill as well as the death of Mrs Pearson.

Having regard to the whole circumstances of the case, in particular the gravity of the charges and your utter disregard for road traffic laws, only a custodial sentence is appropriate.  It is necessary to punish you and to seek to deter you and others from behaving in this way and in particular to protect the public from you.

Had you committed the offence in charge 1, causing Mrs Pearson’s death by dangerous driving, only 3 months later, the maximum sentence would have been life imprisonment. At the time, the maximum sentence was 14 years imprisonment.

On charge 2, the maximum sentence is 10 years imprisonment.

On charge 3, the maximum sentence is 2 years imprisonment.

On charge 4, the maximum sentence is 4 years imprisonment.

I considered whether a consecutive sentence might be appropriate on any charge, for example because driving while disqualified and while impaired by alcohol involve different decisions from each other and different again from choosing to drive at excessive speed. On reflection, as all 4 charges arise out of the same set of circumstances, I have decided that the sentences should be served concurrently, that is they will run alongside each other.

On charge 1, if you had been convicted after trial, I would have imposed a prison sentence of 13 years imprisonment, with 12 months of that sentence being attributable to the fact that you were on bail at the time for directly analogous matters.  

On charge 2, if you had been convicted after trial, I would have imposed a prison sentence of 7 years imprisonment, with 10 months of that sentence being attributable to the fact that you were on bail at the time.  

On charge 3, if you had been convicted after trial, I would have imposed a prison sentence of 18 months imprisonment, with 4 months of that sentence being attributable to the fact that you were on bail at the time.  

On charge 4, if you had been convicted after trial, I would have imposed a prison sentence of 3 years imprisonment, with 6 months of that sentence being attributable to the fact that you were on bail at the time.  

You pled guilty at an early stage by way of specific procedure to accelerate matters.  I must and do recognise that there is a utilitarian value - that is primarily that there was a saving of court time - and I will therefore reduce the various sentences by approximately 30%. In relation to charge 1, the most serious charge, the sentence will therefore be 9 years imprisonment. On charges 2, 3 and 4, the sentences are 4 years 10 months, 1 year and 2 years imprisonment respectively. These will all be served concurrently, that is alongside the sentence on charge 1. In effect, therefore, you are sentenced to a period of 9 years imprisonment.

That sentence will date from 6 July 2023 rather than 23 March 2023 to take into account the 15 weeks you spent serving a sentence of imprisonment for the matter in respect of which you were on bail.

You pay no attention to road traffic laws. Owing to your appalling record of road traffic offences and the current serious matters, I disqualify you from holding or obtaining a driving licence for life and until you pass the extended driving test.”

 12 February 2023