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Distracted driver who crashed into and killed cyclist then claimed infant son was using his phone found guilty

Off-duty police officer Lynwen Thomas was killed when she was hit by Simon Draper, who had been switching between apps on his phone then claimed his 13-month-old son had it

A distracted driver who was browsing social media apps moments before he hit and killed a cyclist then claimed that it had been his infant son using the phone has been found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

Off-duty police officer Lynwen Thomas was killed when Simon Draper, aged 42, crashed into on the A40 between Carmarthen and St Clears at just after 6.40pm on the evening of 25 February, 2021, reports Wales Online.

It took a jury a little over three hours to reach the guilty verdict at the end of the five-day trial at the Nightingale Court at Swansea Civic Centre today.

The court heard that Draper, from St Clears, had been switching between apps including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp as he drove his Ford Transit van prior to the fatal crash.

One witness describing how he looked distracted and veered across the solid white line on the left of the carriageway “several times” before hitting Ms Thomas, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Draper claimed that his 13-month-old son, who was travelling in the van with him, was holding his iPhone in the minutes before the fatal crash.

He said he had given the phone to the child to calm him down, and that he had failed to see Ms Thomas because he looked back at his son momentarily to check he was okay.

But paediatrician Dr Mohammed Rahman, appearing as an expert witness for the prosecution, told the court that it would be impossible for a child of that age to have either the manual dexterity or mental ability to undertake actions that had been performed on the phone in the minutes before the collision.

Those included double-tapping the phone’s home button and swiping between apps, and Dr Rahman also said that an infant would not be able to hold the phone in portrait orientation with one hand while carrying out those commands with the other.

Carina Hughes, prosecuting, told the court that Draper had been “distracted” by his phone, noting that the Instagram app was closed and Facebook opened at 6.42pm – one minute before he crashed into Ms Thomas.

The cyclist was wearing reflective clothing and had what was described as a bright light on her Trek road bike, but Draper’s lawyers had argued that she should have been wearing bright clothing, even though that is not required by law.

In a statement, lead investigator PS Sara John of Dyfed Powys Police said: “Yet again, we see the utter senseless and unnecessary devastation caused by using a mobile phone whilst driving.

“Lynwen was less than 10 minutes away from home when Draper, who was persistently using his iPhone at the wheel, collided with her whilst she was cycling along the A40.

“Lynwen was a respected colleague and a loving mother, daughter, sister and partner who was taken far too soon due to the arrogant and selfish actions of the defendant which have left a young child without their mother.”

She added: “Lynwen’s family have welcomed today’s verdict but now wish to have their privacy respected.”

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.

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