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“Hostile and aggressive” pedestrian found guilty of killing 77-year-old cyclist in pavement cycling dispute

Police could not “categorically state” whether the section of pavement where the tragic incident took place was a shared-use path

A pedestrian who shouted at and gestured towards a cyclist in a “hostile and aggressive way”, causing the rider to fall from her bike and into the path of a passing motorist, has been convicted of manslaughter.

Yesterday at Peterborough Crown Court, Auriol Grey, 49, was found guilty of causing the death of 77-year-old Celia Ward, in a dispute over the cyclist riding on the pavement, and will be sentenced on 2 March, the BBC reports.

Mrs Ward, described by her husband as an “experienced and competent” cyclist, was riding her bike on the pavement next to a ring road in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, on 20 October 2020, when she encountered Ms Grey, who was travelling in the opposite direction.

Ms Grey – who the court heard this week has cerebral palsy and significant eyesight issues, but does not consider herself to have a mental disability – was “angered by the presence of a cyclist on a footpath”, prosecutor Simon Spence KC said.

CCTV footage of the incident (below), shared by Cambridgeshire Constabulary, shows Ms Grey telling the 77-year-old cyclist to “get off the [expletive] pavement”, before gesturing towards her in a “hostile and aggressive way”.

While Mr Spence admitted in court that it was unclear from the footage whether there was any physical contact, he said the gesture had caused Mrs Ward to fall off her bike and into the road, where a driver, who had “no chance to stop or take avoiding action”, collided with her, causing her death.

The court also heard that Ms Grey left the scene before the emergency services arrived and continued on to Sainsbury’s to buy groceries.

She was arrested a day later and told police that she was partially sighted and described the cyclist as travelling “at high speed” in the centre of the pavement.

Ms Grey then stated that she was “anxious I was going to get hit by it”, and that she “flinched out with her left arm to protect herself”.

But after being shown the CCTV footage and asked by police why she shouted at Mrs Ward as she approached, the pedestrian replied: “I don’t know”.

The court also heard this week that Cambridgeshire Police could not “categorically” state whether the section of the pavement where the tragic incident took place was a shared-use path, despite signs permitting cyclists to use the path existing on other parts of the road.

Following the verdict, Det Sgt Mark Dollard said: “This is a difficult and tragic case.

“Everyone will have their own views on cyclists, pavements, and cycleways but what is clear is Auriol Grey’s response to the presence of Celia on a pedal cycle was totally disproportionate and ultimately found to be unlawful, resulting in Celia’s untimely and needless death.

“I am pleased with the verdict and hope it is a stark reminder to all road users to take care and be considerate to each other. I want to take the time to acknowledge Celia’s family and thank them for their patience and dignity throughout the entirety of the investigation and trial.”

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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