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Minibus driver’s “momentary lapse in concentration” led to cyclist’s death

Robert Warden died following collision in Blackburn earlier this year

A minibus driver’s “momentary lapse in concentration” led to the death of a cyclist, a court has been told.

Robert Worden, aged 53 and from Great Harwoood, died in hospital from injuries sustained when he was knocked off his bike and then run over at the Whitebirk roundabout in Blackburn on 5 May this year, reports the Lancashire Telegraph.

Blackburn Magistrates’ Court heard that the driver of the minibus, David Haythornwhite, told police that he had seen Mr Worden on the roundabout but was not aware of where he was at the point of collision.

He pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Philippa White, prosecuting, told the court that the 58-year-old from Burnley had dropped off a passenger shortly before the fatal crash and that a witness saw him drive across the give way line as Mr Worden approached.

She said: “He collided with the rear of the bike, causing it to wobble, and the rider to fall off in front of the minibus.

“At that point he set off and unfortunately drove over Mr Worden, who died shortly after.”

She added: “There is no suggestion he was travelling at speed or that this was anything other than a momentary lapse in concentration.”

Richard James, representing the defendant, likened the incident to the kind that when they involve cars lead to whiplash injuries, adding: “In this case we are talking about a minibus and a bike with more tragic consequences.”

Haythornwhite will be sentenced on 4 February at Preston Crown Court.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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caw35ride | 5 years ago


Philippa White, prosecuting, told the court ... “There is no suggestion ... that this was anything other than a momentary lapse in concentration.”

Is it common for the prosecution to be providing mitigating circumstances for the defendant?

BehindTheBikesheds replied to caw35ride | 5 years ago
caw35ride wrote:


Philippa White, prosecuting, told the court ... “There is no suggestion ... that this was anything other than a momentary lapse in concentration.”

Is it common for the prosecution to be providing mitigating circumstances for the defendant?

I know, how typical of our flaccid CPS, they are an utter disgrace, their inability to do their jobs properly is paet of the very problem they are supposed to be protecting us from by punishing and sending out a message. They are weak as!

ironmancole | 5 years ago

There we are again, the convenient 'death by careless' charge, the perfect get out of jail free card that is used as it's easier to secure a conviction than 'death by dangerous'.

Can anyone explain this is to me...I was in a large grocery store this week and placed over a tiny puddle of fluid was a large plastic sign stating 'DANGER - Please be aware'.

Society somehow recognises an inoccuous spillage on a polished floor as something that presents a high level of risk to mankind.

In contrast, when a human being drives a lethal piece of machinery into another resulting in loss of life that is described as a careless action.

Have I gone mad or is something very very wrong? 

burtthebike replied to ironmancole | 5 years ago

ironmancole wrote:

Have I gone mad or is something very very wrong? 

It's the second; and society has gone mad, not you.

Argos74 | 5 years ago

C'est la fucking vie? The law failed you. Grotesquely from the sounds of it. The next time I'm on a protest ride, or a memorial ride, what happened to you will be yet another reason why I turn out for these things. I wish I didn't have to. I'd rather be out riding bikes and having fun.

But that's no reason to accept what happened here as being acceptable. It's not, and the sentencing guidelines and sentencing in all likelihood in this particular case, what happened to you and a whole bunch of other stuff is not. To loosely quote Angela Davis, I'm done with accepting the things I cannot change.

gcommie | 5 years ago

I don't see why the driver should be prosecutied at all. After all a driver ran in to the back of my bicycle at 50mph resulting in me smashing my head on the bonnet/windscreen and then being thrown across the path of oncoming traffic and was simply sent on a driver education course. If it was good enough to send that driver on a course it should have been good enough in this case, as life or death simply balances on a knife edge and it matters not which way it falls. Sad news yes, but c'est la vie.

Housecathst | 5 years ago

“I saw the cyclist and then hit them and then drove over them” yeahs that just sounds careless doesn’t it. 

burtthebike | 5 years ago

Momentary lapse.  So that's ok then, completely justifies the death of an innocent person.  Kudos to the driver for admitting causing death by careless driving, but it wasn't careless, it was murder by vehicle.  We have to have a change in the law, so that killing someone with a vehicle is held to the same standard as any other unintentional killing.

I'm sure the government review of road law, promised so long ago, will cover this.  Yeah, and I'm a dalek: "Exterminate".

HoarseMann | 5 years ago

Looking at the photos on the Lancashire Telegraph, the vehicle is more like a short wheelbase coach than a minibus. Poor bloke.

I'm not sure what the defence is getting at equating it to a whiplash injury in a car. It’s almost like they’re blaming the cyclist for not driving a car?!

I don’t buy the momentary lapse for one minute. He saw the cyclist, but still managed to hit him. That’s not a lapse, that's gross incompetence or reckless behaviour.

grumpyoldcyclist | 5 years ago

So let me get this right, driver sees cyclist but crosses give way line anyway and knocks cyclist over. Having then stopped past the line, driver then sets off again and drives over the cyclist lying in the road. So that's at least three 'momentary lapses' of concentration then?

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