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Would van driver who killed cyclist have been cleared of causing death by careless driving had the victim been a pedestrian?

Cycling UK questions jury’s decision

Cycling UK has questioned the findings of a Reading Crown Court jury after a van driver was cleared of causing death by careless driving following a collision with a cyclist. The Windsor Express reports that Jeremiah O’Shea hit and killed Fred Dowling on Winkfield Road, Windsor on January 5, 2017.

Questioned about driving conditions, O’Shea said that it was still ‘very dark’ at the time of the collision. He said he was aware of the speed limit and there were no vehicles in front or behind.

O’Shea kept his reading glasses on a shelf near the speedometer of his vehicle and glanced down to check they were there.

“I glanced to where my speedometer is. After I looked back up, maybe a second, I saw my headlight beam pick up a dark shape which was Mr Dowling. To my horror and terror I couldn’t do anything but hit my brakes.”

O’Shea said he let out an involuntarily scream as he braked firmly with both hands on the wheel.

After hitting Dowling, he got out and called an ambulance.

Dowling had been wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket and helmet and his bike had multiple front and rear lights.

Prosecutor Rossano Scamardella asked why O’Shea had failed to see him after several motorists who had previously given evidence said they overtook safely and without incident.

Asked whether he had been distracted by music, or by something on the windscreen, or whether it was just a lapse in concentration, O’Shea replied: “No, the fact was he was not very well lit up on a very dark road and wasn’t there to be seen.”

Andrew Taylor, who had taken overtaken Dowling earlier the same morning, said he had only spotted the cyclist when he was ‘two to three metres away’ and had to manoeuvre around him at the last moment.

He said Dowling’s fluorescent jacket was ‘dirty’ and described seeing only a ‘narrow’ red light on the back of his bike.

Commenting on the verdict, Cycling UK Policy Director Roger Geffen, said:

“If the driver had hit and killed a pedestrian, he surely would not have got away with pleading innocence because they weren’t brightly clothed and lit. It surely cannot be an acceptable defence for killing a cyclist who was reportedly following all the rules.

“Other drivers were able to spot Mr Dowling and avoid hitting him. Cycling UK would argue Mr O’Shea’s failure to do so was surely not just ‘careless’ but ‘dangerous’.

“Cycling UK believes cases like these spell out why we need a full review of road traffic offences and sentencing.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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31 comments

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BehindTheBikesheds | 6 years ago
2 likes

Given the amount of hate speech that goes around about people on bikes and how it's even allowed on TV, on radio and in print added into which deliberate actions/choices to not keep another person safe it is indeed a hate crime/offence against a person.

No doubt in the big cheese meeting the lapdogs will have said fuck all about the impertiality of juries, of judges, of the police, of the way the law is applied differently/more harshly when it's a person on a bike, won't have forced down the throats of the government twonks that people are being killed, maimed and forced from the highway because of the above but guaranteed some twat will bring up the Charlie Alliston case and any other once in a blue moon scenario were a person on a bike hurt someone and state that we need new laws yet the existing laws going back 150+ years are still being used regularly and are adequete IF they are actually applied properly and we don't have an adversarial system that allows a bias jury/judge to decide that might is right and fuck the victim.

If anything CUK should be taking direct legal action against the government because of their failures that means they are culpable AND complicit for the death, injury and misery that occurs on our roads because of their actions/inaction. If they did with the aim of ensuring not just cyclists safety but the safety of all citisens and change the whole way of thinking to be mnore like the Dutch then I'd put £500 toward a case.

As it stands this outcome legitmises piss poor driving and the killing of a human being as just a side note of no worth.

Death by careless is a fucking joke charge, in fact simply making motoring offences, offences against the person charges (just like Charlie Alliston rememebr!!) would make it more in line to the actuality of what happens. Gutless, disgusting, inhumane and breaches basic human rights/common law.

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Hirsute | 6 years ago
0 likes

Just remembered this one
http://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/15383027.Driver_who_reached_into_foot...

He should have been picking up his glasses and killed a cyclist instead then he would have got off.

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fenix | 6 years ago
5 likes

It can be difficult to see pedestrians or bikes of they're all dark. People dashing across the road all in dark kit on an unlit bit of road can be tricky to see.

But the reflectives on hi Viz are usually pretty good. If you've your lights on then they work really well. Even those vests you see discarded on the motorway reflect back. So this one must have been exceedingly dirty to not function. Was this tested at all or do we just take the word of the motorists?

And yes multiple lights but not visible ? This doesn't make sense. He was worried about his visibility that is why he had multiple lights. So why was he not seen ?

This doesn't fit the pattern.

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oldstrath | 6 years ago
6 likes

So the driver admitted to not looking at the road, but was still let off? How in God's name is driving along looking somewhere inside the car not well below the standard we should expect of drivers?

And of coutse if you do dare to fit rear lights that are hard to miss, even for such as this half blind fuckwit, you then have other motons squealing about how your lights have blinded them. Sod 'em. If you honk I know you've seen me.

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lllnorrislll | 6 years ago
6 likes

Hold on - the driver was putting on his reading glasses on at the time of the accident, reading glasses only give clarity of vision for a max of one meter, but generally arms length. The required visual range of a driver is clearly set out by the DVLA as 20 meters, therefore the driver has admitted driving against the rules of his license?!?

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A2thaJ replied to lllnorrislll | 6 years ago
4 likes
lllnorrislll wrote:

Hold on - the driver was putting on his reading glasses on at the time of the accident, reading glasses only give clarity of vision for a max of one meter, but generally arms length. The required visual range of a driver is clearly set out by the DVLA as 20 meters, therefore the driver has admitted driving against the rules of his license?!?

Pressumeably they were reading on more likely texting ?

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Argos74 | 6 years ago
8 likes

Along with the length of a double decker bus, the area of Wales, and the height of Nelson's Column, this sets the measurement benchmark for dumb and wrong by which all future instances of dumb and wrong shall be judged.

Lights? Tick, heck, multiple ticks. Hi Viz? Tick. Helmet? Tick.

Still okay to kill him? Hell yes. And the all driver jury agreed.

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cyclisto | 6 years ago
3 likes

I still cannot understand why bicycles, especially the ones intended for commuting, aren't equipped by manufacturers with proper lights, not candles that are sold as lights. It is as if cars didn't have lights and in order to buy an eponymous decent set of lights (like the ones that road.dd advertises) that you would be able to see and be seen you would have to pay around the 1/4th of a price of roadworthy vehicle. Why this scenario in cars seems absurd and in cars totally logical? Why manufacturers cannot don't include a decent 1000 lumens front and 1w rear light with just 10 quid extra (of course they can, just look at ebay stuff) and putting therefore the blame on cyclists?

So really f*** off bike makers, we don't want carbon dropouts and custom paintjobs, we want even the cheapest bicycle bought by the stupidest novice cyclist to be as safe as possible out of the box, anything else is BS.

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Milkfloat | 6 years ago
8 likes

Article states multiple rear lights, but then say a narrow light at the back. Which is it?

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frogg | 6 years ago
4 likes

Just look for laws and regulations for cyclists to be harder and harder. In the forthcoming fight for public road space , cyclists have to disappear first.  I even look for cycle lanes to be replaced by dedicated lanes for driverless cars ....

Suppose you want to invest big money in a fleet of driverless cars ; you surely don't want them standing still in a traffic jam . So they will ask your preferred politician for solutions ... And they will find solutions indeed!

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/01/17/destroying_the_city_to_save_the...

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john1967 | 6 years ago
4 likes

very scary verdict.Maximise your protection everybody cos no one else gives a damn.

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ChrisB200SX replied to john1967 | 6 years ago
2 likes
john1967 wrote:

very scary verdict.Maximise your protection everybody cos no one else gives a damn.

What, like wearing a hi-viz jacket, helmet and having multiple lights?!

Sickening verdict. Is it time we demanded impartial juries? ie, a jury of non-drivers.

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Jones The Steam replied to ChrisB200SX | 6 years ago
5 likes
ChrisB200SX wrote:

Is it time we demanded impartial juries? ie, a jury of non-drivers.

 

This. Everyone in that jury is sat there thinking "That could easily be me in the dock - it's not his fault, these things happen."If even one of them was a regular road cyclist there's no way the decision would have been unanimous.

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Dnnnnnn replied to Jones The Steam | 6 years ago
1 like
Jones The Steam wrote:
ChrisB200SX wrote:

Is it time we demanded impartial juries? ie, a jury of non-drivers.

This. Everyone in that jury is sat there thinking "That could easily be me in the dock - it's not his fault, these things happen."If even one of them was a regular road cyclist there's no way the decision would have been unanimous.

Indeed. They identify with the perpetrator, not the victim, and the meaning of "careless" is lost, over-ruled by "it wasn't deliberate" and "it was just unlucky". Both of which may be true but it was still fucking careless (at best).

Perhaps they should be made to swear on a dictionary, rather than a bible?

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Housecathst | 6 years ago
0 likes

I don’t totally buy the idea that cyclists are demonstrably  worstly treated that pedestrians when there killed by motorists.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-ne...

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Hirsute | 6 years ago
10 likes

I can see pedestrians in the dark from some distance, so the idea that the guy was only visible 3m away is just nonsensical.
Did any of the drivers have a sight test for nighttime ability to see?
If he had a yellow coat and multiple lights, did anyone test check visibility?

I read a thread elsewhere and people complained of bright cycle lights and flashing lights used by cyclists.
If I'm going to die, I'd like the motorist found guilty and a proper sentence, so I'll keep my X2 and X3.

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Barraob1 replied to Hirsute | 6 years ago
7 likes
hirsute wrote:

I can see pedestrians in the dark from some distance, so the idea that the guy was only visible 3m away is just nonsensical.
Did any of the drivers have a sight test for nighttime ability to see?
If he had a yellow coat and multiple lights, did anyone test check visibility?

I read a thread elsewhere and people complained of bright cycle lights and flashing lights used by cyclists.
If I'm going to die, I'd like the motorist found guilty and a proper sentence, so I'll keep my X2 and X3.

Recently had a mate who drives complain about bright strobe lights that cyclists use, we wouldn't use them if motorists paid attention. It's one excuse less for them

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Dnnnnnn | 6 years ago
7 likes

Appalling incident and verdict.

I wonder if Cycling UK are compiling a list where juries have decided that running over someone who was perfectly visible from some distance away isn't careless. It would be good to see the evidence.

Jury trial is an important part of the justice system but it can have systemic weaknesses.

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BehindTheBikesheds | 6 years ago
16 likes

What a crock of shit, yet again perpetuating the it's ok to kill a person on a bike theme.

Cyclist gets strung up for manslaughter when in fact the other party made errors in judgement more critical to the collision and is nationally ripped to shreds with calls for punishing people on bikes more. Van driver mows down person on a bike and it's oh well, we'll accept your piss poor reason that you mowed them down, off you trot.

The double standards are fucking sickening.

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ironmancole | 6 years ago
11 likes

Just watched the news about the Finsbury Park mosque incident where some looney used a van to cause death and injury. Seems hitting a muslim is terrorism but hitting a cyclist is just one of those things. I thought all life was supposed to be equal but the law argues not? 

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kil0ran replied to ironmancole | 6 years ago
12 likes
ironmancole wrote:

Just watched the news about the Finsbury Park mosque incident where some looney used a van to cause death and injury. Seems hitting a muslim is terrorism but hitting a cyclist is just one of those things. I thought all life was supposed to be equal but the law argues not? 

both hate crimes

no difference, just as there was no difference when the goth guy was kicked to death protecting his girlfriend from the local chavs.

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Kendalred replied to kil0ran | 6 years ago
6 likes
kil0ran wrote:
ironmancole wrote:

Just watched the news about the Finsbury Park mosque incident where some looney used a van to cause death and injury. Seems hitting a muslim is terrorism but hitting a cyclist is just one of those things. I thought all life was supposed to be equal but the law argues not? 

both hate crimes

no difference, just as there was no difference when the goth guy was kicked to death protecting his girlfriend from the local chavs.

Nah, not having that - it's not the same at all. Are you seriously suggesting a hate filled pondlife nazi scumbag deliberately driving a van into a crowd of people with the intention of 'killing as many muslims as possible' is the same as this case? I agree that the lack of justice in this case is so sickening and desperately infuriating that it makes you wonder why we still bother, but I am quite sure this incident is a case of causing death by careless/dangerous driving (that is all too prevalent these days) which should have been punished as such, rather than a pre-meditated and deliberate act to kill. The fact he came up with such obvious bullshit in mitigation just makes him a fucking coward, but it seemed to convice the jury - who in my mind are complicit.

Unless of course you are suggesting it was a deliberate act?

Oh, and it wasn't a goth guy who was kicked to death protecting his girlfriend, Sarah Lancaster was the one who died, and she was protecting her boyfriend, Robert Maltby (who survived - just).

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brooksby replied to Kendalred | 6 years ago
1 like
KendalRed wrote:

 

...

a hate filled pondlife nazi scumbag deliberately driving a van into a crowd of people with the intention of 'killing as many muslims as possible' ...

I read that the bloke's "defence" was that he had an apparently completely invisible friend called Dave who did it... 

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Grahamd replied to brooksby | 6 years ago
1 like
brooksby wrote:
KendalRed wrote:

 

...

a hate filled pondlife nazi scumbag deliberately driving a van into a crowd of people with the intention of 'killing as many muslims as possible' ...

I read that the bloke's "defence" was that he had an apparently completely invisible friend called Dave who did it... 

The jury didn’t buy it but just to be sure the police will now interview all Daves just in case...

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oldstrath replied to Kendalred | 6 years ago
0 likes
KendalRed wrote:
kil0ran wrote:
ironmancole wrote:

Just watched the news about the Finsbury Park mosque incident where some looney used a van to cause death and injury. Seems hitting a muslim is terrorism but hitting a cyclist is just one of those things. I thought all life was supposed to be equal but the law argues not? 

both hate crimes

no difference, just as there was no difference when the goth guy was kicked to death protecting his girlfriend from the local chavs.

Nah, not having that - it's not the same at all. Are you seriously suggesting a hate filled pondlife nazi scumbag deliberately driving a van into a crowd of people with the intention of 'killing as many muslims as possible' is the same as this case? I agree that the lack of justice in this case is so sickening and desperately infuriating that it makes you wonder why we still bother, but I am quite sure this incident is a case of causing death by careless/dangerous driving (that is all too prevalent these days) which should have been punished as such, rather than a pre-meditated and deliberate act to kill. The fact he came up with such obvious bullshit in mitigation just makes him a fucking coward, but it seemed to convice the jury - who in my mind are complicit.

Unless of course you are suggesting it was a deliberate act?

Oh, and it wasn't a goth guy who was kicked to death protecting his girlfriend, Sarah Lancaster was the one who died, and she was protecting her boyfriend, Robert Maltby (who survived - just).

He probably didn't intend to kill someone, but his choice to look at something other than the road was completely deliberate, and he perhaps should suffer similar consequences.

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alansmurphy | 6 years ago
6 likes

I wonder if his florescent/hi viz jacket was dirty due to him being run over.

The 'narrow' light appears to have been less complicit than the width of the van!

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dreamy | 6 years ago
3 likes

"If the driver had hit and killed a pedestrian"

On the road, at night, not crossing at a pedestrian crossing or lights.

Would that go to court?

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burtthebike replied to dreamy | 6 years ago
10 likes
dreamy wrote:

"If the driver had hit and killed a pedestrian"

On the road, at night, not crossing at a pedestrian crossing or lights.

Would that go to court?

Well, a moment's googling says that it would and that the driver would have likely been convicted:

https://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/news/local-news/driver-sentenced-ove...

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/dru...

https://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/news/local-news/driver-who-killed-pe...

http://www.theoldhamtimes.co.uk/news/15654300.Speeding_driver_jailed_for...

On the other hand, this driver was let off after she killed a pedestrian when texting:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9750785/Driver-who-killed-pedestrian-aft...

Obviously circumstances aren't identical, but killing a pedestrian does seem to be taken more seriuosly than killing a cyclist.  Anyone fancy doing the research to compare sentencing and guilty verdicts?

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Bluebug replied to dreamy | 6 years ago
1 like
dreamy wrote:

"If the driver had hit and killed a pedestrian"

On the road, at night, not crossing at a pedestrian crossing or lights.

Would that go to court?

I've been advised by a magistrate if a pedestrian was in such a situation, there was no proof the driver was speeding, no witnesses and the driver immediately notified the emergency services, then there would be no criminal case to answer.

Motorists have got away without going to court for killing/injuring cyclists with no lights at all . However you don't hear of these cases on road.cc as they frequently don't even make the local papers.

With criminal cases the convictions have to be beyond reasonable doubt and it is easy for the defence to cast doubt with just eyewitness evidence. It's much harder if there is any form of electronic evidence. Also you aren't told until the person is convicted whether they have a history of doing similar things.

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Mark_1973_ | 6 years ago
10 likes

Nobody is interested when it's a cyclist involved, unfortunately. I got taken out by a van turning left in my path whilst in a blue cycle lane in broad daylight and, even though under caution he said he didn't see me at any point until he heard the impact on the side of the van, the police took no action. 

As in a previous comment, try using that defence when it's a pedetrian you hit (who isn't lit up with flashing lights).

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