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Judge says driver was ‘avoidably distracted’ but spares him jail due to his ‘apparent mental fragility’

A lorry driver has been handed a nine-month suspended sentence, community service and a one-year driving ban after admitting causing the death of a cyclist by careless driving in September 2017. Jason Edmunds, 44, failed to indicate before he hit pregnant schoolteacher Charlotte Landi, who was on her way to work at the Hampshire School in Chelsea.

The London Evening Standard reports that Landi was cycling to work when Edmunds took a “sudden” decision to turn left at the junction of Grosvenor Road and Chelsea Bridge, cutting across her path.

Prosecutor Harpreet Sandhu said: “The defendant began to move forward after the traffic lights turned green, but not as soon as they turned green.

“She was capable of being seen through the front, near-side camera and the side mirror. He was avoidably distracted at the time the traffic lights turned green and in the moments that followed.

“He began to turn left, he had still not indicated his left turn. This meant that Mrs Landi would have been unaware of the defendant’s intention to turn left.

“By the time the collision occurred, Mrs Landi had been visible on the CCTV monitor for approximately twelve seconds. It seemed to the driver of the vehicle behind the defendant that his turn to the left was sudden.”

Sandhu said that according to another onlooker’s statement, “The speed of the turn was fast and was aggressive in nature.”

Edmunds did not know he had hit Landi until alerted by witnesses.

He told police: “I was sitting at the lights, I checked my mirrors to turn, I checked my mirrors... I don’t know what happened.”

He told the officer who interviewed him that his decision to turn left had not been a late one; that he checked his mirrors when driving and especially at junctions; and that he always looked out for cyclists.

Kwaku Awuku-Asabre, defending Edmunds, said he had suffered from depression since the incident and there were fears he would take his own life. He had given up work and run up substantial debts instead of claiming benefits.

Judge Jeffrey Pegden, QC, sentencing, said: “The degree of danger, in my judgement, was heightened by the very nature of the vehicle you were driving, that tipper truck.

“For some unclear reason you were avoidably distracted. I emphasise though that the cause of the distraction is unknown – it is not suggested, for example, that you were looking at a mobile phone or anything of the kind.”

Explaining the decision to impose only a suspended sentence, he added: “Because of your apparent mental fragility, I have just come to the conclusion that that sentence of nine months can be and should be suspended for a period of two years.”

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