A Porsche driver who sent a text to a friend to say he was ‘hungover’ from a party the evening before shortly before hitting and killing a cyclist has been found not guilty by a jury of causing death by dangerous driving.
James Bryan, aged 37, was driving back to Harrogate, North Yorkshire, from a barbecue in Wilmslow, Cheshire to drop off groceries for his parents when he struck and killed 36-yeasr-old cyclist Andrew Jackson on the A168 between Wetherby and Boroughbridge on the afternoon of 10 May 2020, reports The Stray Ferret.
At the time, England was in national lockdown (some restrictions would be lifted three days later), with people told to stay at home, other than for daily exercise, essential shopping, medical needs, caring for a vulnerable person, or undertaking key jobs that could not be carried out from home.
Prosecuting, Anne Richardson told York Crown Court that Bryan, who had already pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving, was suspected of having used his mobile phone to send and receive messages and review social media in the moments leading up to the fatal crash.
She said that analysis of his phone showed that it was unlocked when he struck Mr Jackson from behind in his Porsche Carrera 911, and that his Facebook and Instagram accounts were both open, and that Bryan – who denied using his phone while driving – must have been “distracted” given that the cyclist was clearly visible.
The previous evening, Bryan had been drinking and also took cocaine at a barbecue in Wilmslow – more than 50 miles from his home in Harrogate, and while traces of the latter were found in his system when he was tested after the crash, he did not return a positive result for excessive levels of either that drug or alcohol.
“The front of the Porsche collided with the rear of Mr Jackson’s bike and Andrew Jackson came off his bike, went up in the air and hit his head on the windscreen and roof of the car, and landed on the road behind the car,” said Ms Richardson, who insisted that Bryan’s standard of driving would have been impaired by the effects of the alcohol and drugs he had taken the night before.
She also said that he “wasn’t looking at the road ahead of him” when he hit Mr Jackson, who died at the scene from head injuries sustained in the crash and was pronounced dead by an off-duty intensive-care consultant who stopped at the scene.
The court heard that during the barbecue, Bryan had sent a message to a friend in which he said, “I’m so drunk I can’t see,” and in another message sent on his way back to North Yorkshire from Cheshire, he told another friend he was hungover from the night before.
When interviewed by police, Bryan insisted that Mr Jackson “came out of nowhere” and had veered into his path as he overtook him, a claim repeated in court by defence counsel Sophia Dower, who insisted that her client was in a “fit and proper state” to drive and that he “didn’t have time to react.”
However, a police collision investigator said that a reconstruction of the incident showed that Mr Jackson had been riding along the edge of the road, close to the grass verge, and that the driver had not attempted to move around the rider.
In a statement released on Friday afternoon after the jury cleared Bryan of causing death by dangerous driving, Mr Jackson’s family said: “The outcome from today doesn’t change anything for us; we are still learning to live with the gaping hole in our lives left by Andrew.
“However, it is important we were here to represent Andrew, to get justice for him and to show just how much he is still loved and missed.
“We all deserve to feel safe on our roads and to make it home to our loved ones,” the family added.
“We respectfully ask for time and space for our family to process the events of this week as we continue to grieve for our husband, father, son and friend.”
Bryan is due to be sentenced on the causing death by careless driving charge on Friday 21 October.
Simon joined road.cc 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.