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Lorry driver jailed over "highly dangerous manoeuvre" that killed cyclist at notorious junction and sparked safe streets protest

HGV driver Kevin Allen was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison after he failed to indicate before making a left turn at Holborn gyratory, killing Dr Marta Krawiec as she cycled to work at Evelina London Children's Hospital...

A lorry driver who was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving in relation to a "highly dangerous manoeuvre" that resulted in the death of cyclist Dr Marta Krawiec has been jailed.

Kevin Allen had already admitted causing death by careless driving but was last month found guilty of the more serious causing death by dangerous driving offence, The Times reporting that he was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison by a judge at the Old Bailey yesterday.

The professional driver from Nottinghamshire, who has also been banned from driving for five years and ten months, was behind the wheel of a 16.5m HGV while on a job delivering to a building site at around 9am on 4 August 2021 when he committed a "highly dangerous manoeuvre" at Holborn gyratory.

The court heard Allen had failed to indicate before turning left at the central London junction, crushing Dr Krawiec as she cycled to work. The 69-year-old had positioned his lorry in the middle lane for traffic travelling straight on, but turned left and only began to indicate once he begun to move.

During the trial, jurors were told it had been a "bright, clear summer morning" and Dr Krawiec was wearing brightly coloured clothes and a helmet.

> "You must ensure that she is the last to die here": Colleagues of doctor killed while cycling to work demand "immediate action" from London mayor

Judge Richard Marks KC said this "tragic oversight" meant there was 49 seconds when Dr Krawiec was stopped waiting at the red light when Allen was not indicating his intention to turn left. The judge also acknowledged the gyratory was "problematic in its layout", protests and campaigning following Dr Krawiec's death prompting safety improvements and permanent road layout changes.

Eight cyclists were killed at the junction between 2008 and 2022, the London Cycling Campaign launching a petition in the aftermath of the final of those incidents calling for urgent safety action on the city's lethal junctions, including the "infamously hostile" Holborn gyratory, with works subsequently carried out a year later and more ongoing improvements underway too.

Hundreds of people also attended a protest in August 2021, organised by Stop Killing Cyclists outside Camden Council's offices, to call for safer streets.

Dangerous junctions protest London Holborn September 2021

> Protesters demand urgent action on dangerous London junctions

In court, Dr Krawiec's partner, Raphael Basckin, explained how she had started cycling to work during lockdown as she believed it was the safest way to get to the children's hospital where she worked, and "she loved her bicycle".

A statement on behalf of her family was read by Mr Basckin: "In a mere second all Marta's dreams, plans and hopes were taken away from her."

He also told of the pain felt by medics who tried to save Dr Krawiec's life at the scene and who discovered her hospital identification card.

The court was also told that the lorry driver involved had an "unblemished" record since he started driving aged 21 and had been working as an HGV driver since 1989. The judge said he accepted that Allen was "full of remorse" and "haunted" by the death he had caused.

He said: "It is safe to say the junction was problematic in terms of its layout, the left hand lane was a bus lane and a vehicle of your size would not have been able to be in that lane without encroaching on the bus lane. Given the time of day, unsurprisingly there were other vehicles, as well as five other bicycles.

"You were not signalling your indication to turn left, this would have given all other road users time. Marta Krawiec was the last of the cyclists to pull up at the lights. Very clear evidence was to the effect that she would have been visible in two of your wing mirrors.

"I have no doubt Marta Krawiec was visible and not just momentarily but the fact you did not see her can only be explained either by you not checking your mirrors or even if you did not doing so adequately. When you are driving an HGV in a busy city centre, a combination of being in the middle lane and not indicating amounts to being very culpable driving."

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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6 comments

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ymm | 1 month ago
9 likes

A shorter sentence than what was deserved tbh but custodial nonetheless. I cannot get my head around the utter incompetence of the driver. It is utterly ridiculous to drive such a large vehicle so dangerously having had so much driver training. The driver failed to meet the higher standards expected of him. I would hope that hgv driver training learns lessons from this case.

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Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago
6 likes

Sadly this is under the old sentencing guidelines.  I would have hoped for 10+ years under the new ones.

https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/news/item/sentencing-guidelines-for...

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Patrick9-32 replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago
8 likes

Looking at the guidelines for causing death by dangerous driving, how is "Use of mobile phone or other electronic device (where not culpability A)" possible which culpability A contains "Deliberate decision to ignore the rules of the road and disregard for the risk of danger to others"

Are people out here accidentally using their mobile phones while they drive? "The phone fell into my hand and I slipped and accidentally went on facebook!" 

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Robert Hardy replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago
0 likes

Our sense of retributory justice might be satisfied, but for an otherwise law abiding person over two years in prison is I think a significant punishment for causing an otherwise uncompensatable tragedy. The shocking thing is the failure to improve the junction and mandate much better nearside visability on on all comercial vehicles and perhaps force commercial drivers to take a continuing competence to drive course on road test every three years.

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chrisonabike replied to Robert Hardy | 1 month ago
3 likes

"otherwise law abiding" - generally just means "got away with it before".  Particularly in the case of offenses which are minimally policed (most things driving).  Yes humans can go suddenly, dreadfully haywire - or rather once we've made one mistake I guess others are more likely to follow as people try to quickly fix the issue.  But a "professional driver" though.

However it sounds like there's acknowledgement that it's more than just one person here (it usually is).  If the junction is a contributing factor *, who is in the dock for that?  If nobody (or realistically no authority) picks up any censure right there is the guarantee "things will never improve".

Sadly that seems to be the case (note the stalled Road Safety Investigation Branch - which was hardly going to be the Spanish Inquisition anyway though the right direction to go.)  I know that it would likely be a nominal penalty for authorities... they do sometimes get motivated though.**

* And possibly how we manage professional drivers too.

** Could they be taken to court here?  It's taken over a million pounds just in payouts but it seems Edinburgh council is gradually realising that they'd better look into doing something about their unsafe tram layouts more than just sticking up a sign saying "mind how you go".  Of course that will likely be more paint and slightly redirecting cyclists as it's still vastly cheaper to keep paying compensation than touch the tramline now.  If only they'd listened a bit more over the many years they had before building...

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quiff replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
2 likes
chrisonabike wrote:

"otherwise law abiding" - generally just means "got away with it before". 

I thought "otherwise law-abiding" just means someone who picks which laws matter to them. Breaks the law in specific and limited ways if you will.

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