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Suspended sentence for tanker driver who killed cyclist when he pulled in too early

Court told that vehicle’s wing mirror had been knocked out of position before fatal crash in Kent meaning driver had no nearside view

A tanker driver who killed a cyclist in Kent after he pulled in too early as he overtook him has been handed a suspended sentence.

David Adlam, aged 62 and from Southborough, was pulled beneath the wheels of the vehicle after driver Nicholas Gray, 59, was said to have “misjudged” the manoeuvre, reports Kent Online.

The fatal crash happened on the B2176 Penshurst Road between Bidborough and Penshurst on 17 July 2018.

The court was told that the wing mirror had been pushed out of alignment when Gray hit a hedge, meaning he drove for a mile and a half without a clear view of the nearside of the vehicle.

Patrick Dennis, prosecuting, said: “At around 6.30pm, David Adlam was cycling on the B2176 which is the Penshurst Road in Tonbridge.

“The defendant was driving an Isuzu NQR tanker lorry on the same road. There was a collision and Mr Adlam tragically died at the scene.

“At a point where the defendant believed he had passed the bicycle he pulled in. However, he had misjudged where the bicycle was.

“This caused the lorry to strike the bicycle and Mr Adlam was thrown beneath the wheels of the lorry and tragically killed.

“Pertinently, the lorry’s nearside wing mirror was bent inwards at the time of the collision, rendering it temporarily useless.

“It is the prosecution case that is why the defendant did not see Mr Adlam and pulled in too early.”

The victim, who was retired, was an experienced rider and a member of a cycling club, and had also taken cycling holidays in the Pyrenees.

“Mr Adlam was cycling quite safely and properly, nothing about his cycling is open to criticism,” Mr Dennis added.

The prosecutor also noted that the brakes on the vehicle were defective, but said that had not been a factor in the crash.

In mitigation, John Dye, defending, said: “Tragedy is an overused word but what happened was a true tragedy. The defendant feels guilt and shame,” he added.

Mr Adlam’s daughter, Clare, said in a victim impact statement that her father had been her “confidante and best friend.”

She added: “He was reliable, supportive and always just a call away. Losing him in this way is like losing a part of myself.”

Judge Jeremy Donne QC, passed on his condolences to Mr Adlam’s family, and revealed that he had given up riding his road bike following a number of crashes.

“I hope it's clear that I am sorry for your loss,” he said. “I can assure you that I am terrified when I am out on my bike.

“And after my last accident I have stopped riding my road bike,” he added.

He also criticised the management of the firm Gray was driving for, saying that they had a “cavalier” attitude regarding vehicle safety following claims from staff that trying to discuss a problem with brakes to them was like “talking to a wall.”

Gray, from Fordcombe, near Tunbridge Wells, pleaded guilty to causing Mr Adlam’s death by  careless driving.

He was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and was placed under a three-month curfew, as well as being ordered to pay costs of £1,000 and given a 15-month ban from driving.

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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33 comments

Avatar
Gus T | 2 years ago
0 likes

Judge claim's he is an ex-cyclist, doesn't he know it's an offence to lie in court?

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eburtthebike | 2 years ago
3 likes

"Judge Jeremy Donne QC, passed on his condolences to Mr Adlam’s family, and revealed that he had given up riding his road bike following a number of crashes."

And yet, when given the opportunity to do something about the dangerous drivers who threaten both him and all cyclists, he does almost nothing.

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lonpfrb | 2 years ago
6 likes

David is gone but not forgotten.

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cmedred | 2 years ago
5 likes

So this is what a life is worth in the UK? £1,000. a 15-month driving ban and a three-month curfew? 

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eburtthebike replied to cmedred | 2 years ago
1 like
cmedred wrote:

So this is what a life is worth in the UK? £1,000. a 15-month driving ban and a three-month curfew? 

It's what a cyclist's life is worth in the UK.

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wtjs | 2 years ago
6 likes

Joke sentence, joke ban and joke fine. It couldn't be more obvious that the legal apparatus views the odd cyclist death as an acceptable price for the valuable benefit of allowing drivers to drive how they like.

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Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
8 likes

Judge Jeremy Donne QC, passed on his condolences to Mr Adlam’s family, and revealed that he had given up riding his road bike following a number of crashes.

“I hope it's clear that I am sorry for your loss,” he said. “I can assure you that I am terrified when I am out on my bike..."

...because the roads are full of maniacs driving dangerously secure in the knowledge that if they kill they'll come up in front of arseholes like me who will give them a tap on the wrist.

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Sriracha | 2 years ago
4 likes

I don't disagree that the sentence seems lenient, especially the lack of jail time, for killing a person through calculated negligence.

But I do wonder how it compares with similar cases not involving cyclists. So here is a case resulting in death and (multiple) injury through careless ... cooking.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/dec/02/one-killed-31-left-ill-u...

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Steve K replied to Sriracha | 2 years ago
1 like
Sriracha wrote:

I don't disagree that the sentence seems lenient, especially the lack of jail time, for killing a person through calculated negligence. But I do wonder how it compares with similar cases not involving cyclists. So here is a case resulting in death and (multiple) injury through careless ... cooking. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/dec/02/one-killed-31-left-ill-u...

You make a fair point.  I was surprised by the leniency of that sentence.  And the bit I really can't believe is that he seems to still be working as a chef.  (And that he said he is a better chef as a result - oh well, the death was worth it, then?)

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eburtthebike replied to Steve K | 2 years ago
2 likes
Steve K wrote:

  And the bit I really can't believe is that he seems to still be working as a chef.  (And that he said he is a better chef as a result - oh well, the death was worth it, then?)

I don't think chefing needs a licence, so it can't be taken away.

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Steve K replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago
2 likes
eburtthebike wrote:
Steve K wrote:

  And the bit I really can't believe is that he seems to still be working as a chef.  (And that he said he is a better chef as a result - oh well, the death was worth it, then?)

I don't think chefing needs a licence, so it can't be taken away.

No, but would you employ a chef who'd killed somone?

(And, also, if my cooking had killed someone, I'd think maybe this wasn't the career for me.)

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jh2727 | 2 years ago
16 likes

> the wing mirror had been pushed out of alignment when Gray hit a hedge, meaning he drove for a mile and a half without a clear view of the nearside of the vehicle.

Surely you mean:

"the wing mirror had been pushed out of alignment when Gray carelessly hit a hedge, he then chose to continue without a clear view of the nearside of the vehicle, until he killed Mr Adlam."

Continuing to drive when your vehicles mirrors are out of alignment is not a mitigating factor - it as an aggrevating factor. If there was ever any doubt that he should have been prosecuted for causing death by dangerous driving, this surely tips the balance.

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nniff | 2 years ago
11 likes

Where is the Health and Safety at Work prosecution for this for corporate manslaughter?  If they'd dropped a pallet of bricks on someone from a crane tey would be in the dock.  Why should this be any different, especially as the other deficiencies on the vehicle point to a disregard for the safety of others.  It's not clear if the tanker was fuel or something else, but fuel tanker drivers are supposedly more rigorously trained.  Doesn't mean they actually conduct themselves any better.

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joe9090 | 2 years ago
12 likes

""“I hope it's clear that I am sorry for your loss,” he said. “I can assure you that I am terrified when I am out on my bike. And after my last accident I have stopped riding my road bike,” he added.""

 

Of ffs lets just all give up then, and buy Range Rovers shall we?

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chrisonabike replied to joe9090 | 2 years ago
2 likes
joe9090 wrote:

""“I hope it's clear that I am sorry for your loss,” he said. “I can assure you that I am terrified when I am out on my bike. And after my last accident I have stopped riding my road bike,” he added.""

 

Of ffs lets just all give up then, and buy Range Rovers shall we?

Well the UK's roads are pretty safe and we're mostly "the quick and the brave" on here. Keep riding I say and don't let the Beamers get you down. But in darker moments do I wonder if in the UK those campaigning for improved cycling / mass cycling are all Cassandras. Or trying to bail out a sunken ship / plant gardens in the desert.

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Gus T replied to joe9090 | 2 years ago
3 likes
joe9090 wrote:

""“I hope it's clear that I am sorry for your loss,” he said. “I can assure you that I am terrified when I am out on my bike. And after my last accident I have stopped riding my road bike,” he added.""

 

Of ffs lets just all give up then, and buy Range Rovers shall we?

Yes, let's all give up expecting to be protected by the legal system when on our bikes, it totally bemuses me that a member of the judicary fails to acknowledge that the reason for his "accidents" is bad drivers and when he comes across an acknowledged bad driver, hands out a slap on the wrist

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Hirsute | 2 years ago
9 likes

How can a supposedly professional driver not notice or fail to correct his mirrors' postion for a mile and a half? That's a few minutes on a B road.

If this is from a cycling judge who should have some understanding of the risk, what hope is there?

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wycombewheeler replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
7 likes
hirsute wrote:

How can a supposedly professional driver not notice or fail to correct his mirrors' postion for a mile and a half? That's a few minutes on a B road.

If this is from a cycling judge who should have some understanding of the risk, what hope is there?

maybe the judge is garage at large, claims to be a cyclist but only shows empathy for drivers.

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Flintshire Boy replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
0 likes

Bore, bore, bore, boring.

Have you really nothing better to offer than that tired old stuff?

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Hirsute replied to Flintshire Boy | 2 years ago
7 likes

Aren't you the young lad who instructs people to make a positive contribution ?

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Rendel Harris replied to Flintshire Boy | 2 years ago
6 likes

.

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Owd Big 'Ead replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
6 likes

If he hadn't hit and killed Mr Adlam he would have driven even further without adjusting his mirrors. The only thing that made him stop was the accident.
Tbh the judge has bottled it, using his own anecdotal evidence from cycling on the roads himself to form the basis of his sentencing.
A preventable killing dismissed with the lightest of sentences.
Despicable!

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bobbypuk | 2 years ago
20 likes

I am absolutely sick of this idea that people can be killed through "careless" driving. Careless is leaving the house and forgetting your keys. Driving in such a way that somebody is killed is the very definition of dangerous.
Dangerous: likely to injure or harm somebody, or to damage or destroy something

He'd already hit a hedge that damaged the safety equipment on his vehicle. Continuing to drive with this damage surely pushes this from careless to dangerous.

I won't even go there with the two year driving ban.

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Spokesperson replied to bobbypuk | 2 years ago
4 likes

Two year ban? Fifteen months! 

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Steve K | 2 years ago
7 likes

This is appalling.  It's bad enough that magistrates show leniency towards 'ordinary' drivers who kill (apparently because of a 'there but the grace of gods go I' type of sympathy with the driver) but to not demand higher standards from professional drivers is unacceptable.  It was not a momentary lapse of judgment - he chose to drive without vital safety equipment.

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wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
11 likes
Quote:

“At a point where the defendant believed he had passed the bicycle he pulled in. However, he had misjudged where the bicycle was.

Considering he had no means of looking for the cyclist, there is no judgment here. More accurate to say the driver incorrectly guessed the cyclists position.

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chrisonabike | 2 years ago
13 likes

Hmm... so we've a company which is totally uninterested in safety - on the road at at least - from top to bottom. A driver who is fatally "careless" but who doesn't serve a prison sentence for that (let's hope he's careful if he's driving while banned). Who can be back driving again in under two years. And probably will given current demand.

Oh - and a general driving culture that means that "forgetting" about people you've passed is actually seen as quite understandable, if not normal.

Is there a better way? Would this be improved by making these vehicles electric, adding a few "should" guidelines in the highway code, encouraging empathy, building more roads, raising the speed limit, or putting number plates on cyclists?

Is this "just one of those things"? Sad but inevitable?

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brooksby replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
7 likes
chrisonatrike wrote:

Oh - and a general driving culture that means that "forgetting" about people you've passed is actually seen as quite understandable, if not normal.

You've reminded me I got overtaken by a mid-sized flat bed lorry the other evening, on my way home.

On a bend, going to the left, and he completely forgot that if he started to move back toward the kerb when his cab is round the bend/past me then the back of the lorry moves across too and gets rather too close to the cyclist (me!) whom he's overtaking...

It was the first time in a very long time that I actually found myself tensing up ready to abandon ship!

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EddyBerckx | 2 years ago
10 likes

How is it not a life ban from driving? 

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chrisonabike replied to EddyBerckx | 2 years ago
5 likes
EddyBerckx wrote:

How is it not a life ban from driving? 

"Misjudgement" / "momentary inattention" / "accident", see? "Unfortunate combination of circumstances" because the mirror was "temporarily useless" (of course that was the driver, for not looking). So it could happen to anyone. Greater punishment would be unfair because "he didn't mean it" and driving is a right and won't you think of his children / elderly parents / other dependants who will be punished through no fault of their own?

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