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Mountain biker whose partner was hit and killed at race calls for more protection for spectators

British Cycling confirmed to the inquest that no spectators have been injured at downhill events since Judith Garrett's death in 2014...

The former partner and British Cycling's risk manager have appeared at an inquest into the death of a spectator who was hit by a competitor who lost control of his bike after landing a jump at a downhill mountain bike event in North Wales in 2014.

Speaking on Monday at the resumption of a pre-inquest hearing into Judith Garrett's death, former boyfriend Peter Walton — who was also competing at the event at Tan y Craig Farm near Llangollen, Denbighshire, in August 2014 — called for more to be done to protect spectators.

Garrett died at the Royal Stoke University Hospital on 1 September 2014 from a "major traumatic head injury due to a collision incident with moving mountain bike".

Reporting from Ruthin County Hall, the Daily Post notes Mr Walton told the coroner more needs to be done to prevent spectators from standing in exclusion zones and that people should not have been allowed to stand where his partner was when she was struck.

The senior coroner for North Wales east and central, John Gittins, noted it was possible for a regulation 28 report to prevent future deaths to be issued, but concluded the decision on whether to hand British Cycling such a report should be deferred.

British Cycling provided the coroner with a dossier of safety changes made following the death and will again report to Mr Gittins next month after meetings where changes — including improving signage and altering the colour of tape used to stop spectators entering certain areas — will be considered.

Speaking at the inquest, Nigel Cowell-Clark, British Cycling's risk manager confirmed that no spectators have been injured in downhill racing events since the 2014 incident.

In 2018, marshal Kevin Duckworth, event organiser Michael Marsden and British Cycling were all found not guilty of charges related to the incident.

> Organisers and officials of downhill mountain bike event cleared of charges relating to spectator's death

Mr Duckworth had been charged with failing to take reasonable care to ensure the health and safety of others, but was found not guilty.

Likewise, Mr Marsden had been charged under health and safety legislation of failing to conduct the event in such a way that people were not exposed to risk.

He said he had carried out a course inspection to identify possible hazards, and said that in places where someone might come off their bike the course was widened so they would remain on it.

Meanwhile, British Cycling was charged with failing to conduct its undertaking in such a way as to ensure the health and safety of people attending.

In its defence, the organisation said that it had no responsibility for the event, with the paperwork being handled by Welsh Cycling which operates as an independent and distinct entity.

Both parties were found not guilty at Mold Crown Court.

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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ChuckSneed | 1 year ago

Should've been wearing hi-vis and a helmet

SimoninSpalding | 1 year ago

An organisation that is involved in the death of a member of the public and 8 years later is still only considering changes to reduce the risk is irresponsible and morally bankrupt.
The spectators may have been in the wrong place but the organiser has responsibility to ensure that those areas are kept clear.

Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago

How TAF did they manage to charge the wrong National Cycling entity?  What a farce.

Freddy56 | 1 year ago

It is very sad. But injured parties are always looking for someone to blame. Personal responsibility must come into call. Judge made correct call

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