crime

Epileptic driver jailed for 10 years over accident that killed 2 pedestrians

29 Comments

The Osaka District Court on Friday sentenced a 51-year-old man to 10 years in prison for killing two people, after he suffered a bout of epilepsy while driving his minivan in Higashi-Osaka in 2015.

The court heard that Makoto Ikuno lost consciousness for a few seconds at around 7:30 a.m. on March 5, 2015, Fuji TV reported. The minivan was going at more than 100 kilometers an hour when it crashed into a car at an intersection, and then hit two male pedestrians, aged 40 and 37, killing them. The driver of the car was seriously injured.

Ikuno was charged with reckless driving resulting in death. He admitted to police that he suffered from epilepsy and that he had not been making regular visits to his doctor, as he was supposed to.

After his arrest, Ikuno said that he felt nauseous a few minutes prior to the accident. The presiding judge said he should have stopped his vehicle immediately and said it was irresponsible of Ikuno to keep driving.

Ikuno was charged under a law that went into effect in 2014 in which anyone who suffers from epilepsy and wants a driver’s license must submit a letter from a doctor affirming that they are OK to drive. Ikuno did not get such an affirmation from his doctor.

Under the law, causing death while driving drunk or as a result of a chronic condition, such as epilepsy and hypoglycemia, is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Furthermore, anyone who hides a medical condition that may affect their driving when they apply for a license faces a penalty of one year in jail and a fine of 300,000 yen.

Medical professionals who are aware that their patients suffering from epilepsy or schizophrenia are driving, are required to report it to public safety authorities.

Prior to 2014, the maximum imprisonment period for causing deaths due to reckless driving was 20 years, but a loophole in the law meant that the severest penalty only applied to "incidents occurring under normal driving conditions." Because of this, most cases were labeled as involuntary manslaughter where the maximum sentence was only seven years.

The 2014 law changed the way courts deal with cases and sentencing. It expanded on existing regulations by stating that under the influence of alcohol, drugs and "special illnesses," the normal ability to safely operate a vehicle is severely impeded and can lead to fatal casualties. The term "special illnesses" refers to conditions such as epilepsy and schizophrenia.

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29 Comments
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10 years for taking two lives, when driving a vehicle knowing fully well that he shouldn't be driving. Not to mention that admitting he had not been visiting his doctor as required as well.

Like it or not, it is, in MY opinion, premeditated, maybe not consciously intentional, but premeditated and he should be getting the harshest sentence allowable under the law, the full 15 years!

The term “special illnesses” refers to conditions such as epilepsy and schizophrenia.

"Such as........" Thing is that this term "special illness" COULD be used in other circumstances when the police have no other way to charge or indict a driver. It's a catch all term.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

The minivan was going at more than 100 kilometers an hour when it crashed into a car at an intersection, and then hit two male pedestrians

Epilepsy or not, that's quite fast for an intersection...

6 ( +7 / -1 )

... but corrupt politician don't get punished at all. Considering the suicide rate among police officers, how many of them drive with a special illness?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Contradiction , yesterday another driver who killed a child and injure few others was released ... !!!!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

"another driver who killed a child and injured a few others was released"

Read that sentence again out loud...

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Contradiction , yesterday another driver who killed a child and injure few others was released

It's almost like each case is different. Imagine that.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Did Makoto Ikuno, express any remorse to the families for the loss of life and injures caused by his recklessness in failing to obey laws relating epilepsy and driving a vehicle?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think there should be a law that, along with the sentence, the amount of monetary restitution to the victim(s) should be made public. I think you'd find a very interesting correlation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

While he is undoubtedly responsible, the punishment seems harsh for Japan who lets other offenders often walk. Are they clumping DUI and not taking care of your mental illness as a similar crime?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Re: Restitution

Won't happen even if Ikuno was insured - his conduct most likely invalidated his policy.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If everyone out there cared a little bit more for the lives of others, hence their own life, this would have been avoided immense amount of times. More health checking, less drinking while driving, less years inside the car, less cars... But then again, those who neglect the nature of human body and keep driving are moral criminals until they become a real one, but ones covering up their illnesses, not health checking in due time, keeping going when it is obviously they are at their awareness limit - those are criminals before they became ones legally.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@khulifi

I'm assuming you're talking about the guy with dementia who didn't know he had dementia. That's the difference - he didn't know he was taking that risk (although driving at his age almost always comes with some risk), but this guy knew fully well what could happen and broke the law when choosing to drive a car without the proper medical examination.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Ten years is not enough for this guy. I realize he has a disease, but he knew full well that he did not have the doctor's requirements for driving (the letter), and as the judge said he should have stopped the car immediately upon feeling nauseous -- not AFTER or through an epileptic fit.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Very interesting in the final sentences they state that if you have schizophrenia or epilepsy you will be treated as if you were high or drunk and killed someone. While I agree that you must be responsible for yourself, I don't believe that those various circumstances should be lumped in the same law.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If won't be very much money and won't bring restitution, but the compulsory insurance (jibaiseki) when you get shaken is for personal injury and death (tai-jin), not for physical damage. So if the car were shaken-ed, the victims' families will have got something from that insurance, even if the driver was penniless and invalidated any private (nin'i, badly translated as "voluntary") insurance he might have had by driving without his meds.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Must Japan lose its particularism ? Must we acknowledge our universalism and reserve our judgement for more universalist contexts?

*Fons Trompenaars

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trompenaars%27_model_of_national_culture_differences

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

good! 10 years is still a little short for me, but at least its something. he should have gotten life, same with 88 year old dinosaur who murdered a child but got off scott free! scot free!!

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

It says any chronic condition. That very vague, Most people don,t realise they have a chronic Heart condition until after their first episode ? This would occur in the pass. I know you can,t hold a pilot licence of any type international if you have epilepsy. I know my brother can not hold a driver's licence because of his epilepsy in Australia. Maybe this should prompt some sort of law changing, This sounds more like a Man slaughter charge or sentencing ?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So the new law only effectively added 3 years to his sentence....woopty doo....really big difference there (not really)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

premeditated, maybe not consciously intentional, but premeditated

'Premeditated' means consciously planned and carried out...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

John-san: "That very vague, Most people don,t realise they have a chronic Heart condition until after their first episode ?"

I'm guessing it only applies if it can be proven they were previously aware of it and ignored the laws despite it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yubaru, a recent case that happened in Singapore where a driver hit and run and then fled to a neigboring country, caught and handed over to Singapore and was only sentenced to jail for 2 years only. In top of that there was no report of any illness suffer by the driver.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Busy streets need roadside guards/ fences/planting to protect pedestrians, rubble strips, other safety devices.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@thepersoniamnow

While he is undoubtedly responsible, the punishment seems harsh for Japan who lets other offenders often walk. Are they clumping DUI and not taking care of your mental illness as a similar crime?

Just FYI, epilepsy is a medical illness, not mental.

For the other posters saying he should have stopped when he felt ill, nausea is not the most common aura sign that a fit is coming, and there are plenty of other reasons to feel nauseous.

Although in this case it is apparent the man was in the wrong & should have been taking medicine, I wonder if the govt would penalize an obese smoker the same way if they had a non-fatal heart attack while driving? They seem to have it in for epilepsy sufferers even more than they do Pokemon Go drivers.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Mlodinow Thanks, I didn't know that. The people I knew that had epilepsy also had other conditions I suppose.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The presiding judge said he should have stopped his vehicle immediately and said it was irresponsible of Ikuno to keep driving.

My younger brother suffers from epilepsy. He has no idea when it will happen. He said sometimes it starts off as a headache while other times its just a headache. So this guy maybe doesn't know if or when it will happen.

2 months ago an 88 year old man with dementia killed a 6 year old kid and doesn't remember it. He was released because he doesn't remember anything. I don't understand this. They both have a mental illness, but one is more serious than the other? One could be helped with medicine while the other, can't. I hope the victim's families can cope with the loss of a loved one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They both have a mental illness, but one is more serious than the other?

Epilepsy is not a mental illness.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I also have had people with epilepsy tell me they have NO IDEA when they would have a situation, and it caused them much heartache and embarassment. A drunk dude or high dude, knows he is drunk or high and makes a choice to drive. A person with an illness shouldn't be lumped in with that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

thepersoniamnow

That is not the point. The point is, as the judge said, the man should have stopped driving when he felt nauseous, as anyone should do, regardless of whether you have a medical condition or not. I know that I would pull over straightaway if I felt nauseous.

Also, Ikuno had not been seeing his doctor regularly as he was supposed to, and he had not got a letter from his doctor certifying him fit to drive, as he was supposed to.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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