Lorry driver jailed for death by careless driving of Kent cyclist

Truck wing mirror hit rider's helmet

by John Stevenson   December 23, 2013  

Justice (Lonpicman, Wikimedia Commons)

A lorry driver from Sittingbourne has been handed a one-year jail sentence for causing the death by careless driving of 57-year-old cyclist Stephen Van Hinsbergh on the A299 in Kent last August.

According to KentOnline Canterbury Crown Court found Brian Walden, 40, not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, but he had already submitted a guilty plea to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.

Judge Adele Williams also banned Mr Walden for three years. She told him: “You said you had pulled out to go around the cyclist, but the evidence before me from three eyewitnesses was that you did not pull out and your vehicle was weaving.”

Stephen Van Hinsbergh died at the scene on August 13 last year. The crash occurred in the Marshside area just before midday.

The court heard that Brian Walden had been making deliveries in the frozen food truck in Whitstable and Margate and was on his way back to London.

Mr Walden told investigators he first saw Mr Van Hinsbergh from about 200 yards away. He said he had checked his mirror, then moved out, believing he had left enough room to pass safely.

However, his wing mirror hit Mr Van Hinsbergh’s helmet, shattering the mirror.

Mr Walden stopped the lorry and ran back to check what had happened and found Mr Van Hinsbergh lying face down in the road.

Representing My Walden, Rachel Cooper said he had been a lorry driver for 15 years without incident, but now thought about the crash every day and no longer wanted to work as a lorry driver.

His wife and five children had suffered as the family had declared bankruptcy.

Mis Cooper added: “His actions have devastated Mr Van Hinsbergh’s family and also his own.”

PC Glen Braidwood said: “This was clearly an error of judgement on the part of Walden which had tragic consequences for Mr Van Hinsbergh and a devastating effect on his family.

“I hope the prison term will serve as a warning to all drivers using our Kent roads, particularly lorry drivers, that they must afford plenty of room to cyclists when they are overtaking.”

In a statement shortly after his death, Mr Van Hinsbergh’s family  paid tribute to a “beloved father, son, brother and friend”. They said he was taken far too soon and would be missed beyond words.

Commenting on the case, CTC road safety campaigner Rhia Wston said: "From the evidence presented in court, the lorry driver saw the cyclist from 200 yards away yet failed to leave him enough space to overtake him safely. 

"CTC's 'Road Justice' campaign believes that, in law, driving that causes foreseeable danger to vulnerable road users should always be classed as 'dangerous' (not 'careless') driving and that juries should be advised accordingly.

"It is therefore disappointing that the jury rejected the prosecution evidence that Mr Walden's driving was 'dangerous'. 

"We are however pleased that the CPS pursued this prosecution even after he had pleaded guilty to the lesser 'careless' driving offence, and would urge them to do likewise in other similar situations.  We are also dismayed that the judge imposed only a 3 year driving ban. 

"Much longer bans are needed, and could have been imposed, in cases like this.""

11 user comments

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So not pulling out to overtake and driving along weaving is not dangerous? Another jury of motorists then.

posted by racyrich [205 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 11:00

31 Likes

Now this is what scare me on the road. Blind old ladies aside, its easy to be seen and to me that is not an issue. Being side wiped by a vehicle whose driver is to impatient to wait is much more worrying.
Sentence is in line with current thinking for all crimes. Completely and pathetically lenient. Stick a zero on please.

posted by mattsccm [304 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 11:43

29 Likes

seriously a year for ending a life due to their actions, I'm sure the cyclists family feel the full weight of justice has been brought to bear on this driver and justice has been served!

posted by McDuff73 [78 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 12:41

26 Likes

the prison sentence changes nothing tbh, and whilst a longer ban is in my opinion appropriate, the most depressing part of the affair is actually the jury.

They seem to be suggesting that failing to give adequate space and as a result killing someone is not dangerous.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1790 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 12:57

27 Likes

Cyclist dead because of the old, "must, must, must get in front of the cyclist" mentality. Probably in a hurry to get back, found the human being on bike a hindrance and probably swore about him under his breath then tried to force/squeeze his way through with oncoming traffic abound. Then he took the cyclists life.

The one year sentence is already a sentence reduced by an early guilty plea (albeit to the lesser charge), which makes me mad. Then in *less* than 6 months he will be suitable for early release on licence unless he's a complete arse in prison. Which makes me even madder. You get out *on time* for good behaviour/good signs of rehab and not a day less than your sentence.

He should of been handed down 10 years and banned for life. As has been said, driving is a privilege not a right. This wasn't a lapse in judgement or an accident beyond his control (which does change things). He took a mans life with a calculated, intentional risk attached to it and carried on regardless. The witness evidence says he lied. (Thank Crikey there were witnesses willing to come forward). You cannot do that in trucks that weight 7.5 tons and upwards to 40 tons. The drivers life is also ruined, and that his family, but there must be a deterrent effect to stop all this complacency and there must be real closure for the victim (if they survive) and their family. I think our justice system is fecking joke.

posted by Critchio [131 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 14:59

22 Likes

I think the bit of road is a dual carriageway so not even oncoming traffic to worry about. Some of the comments on Kent Online are actually a bit worrying and depressing

djc1245

posted by djc1245 [22 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 19:39

16 Likes

The worst aspect of this is that it is not a surprise to anyone who rides a bike. We all experience many near misses from impatient drivers who don't leave enough space. I feel sorry for the guy's family and friends.

posted by HarrogateSpa [206 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 20:37

18 Likes

Also, "his wing mirror hit Mr Van Hinsbergh’s helmet, shattering the mirror"

How bloody fast was he going to do that?! Clearly too fast to pass safely at 2 inches from the guy's handlebars...

posted by TheSpaniard [82 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 20:54

17 Likes

I think some people here don't quite understand the difference between careless driving and dangerous driving and the ease with which the former may be prosecuted, compared to the latter.

A one year sentence is appropriate considering the suffering he and his family have gone through. I would, however, ban him for ten years, not three. Driving is a privilege, not a right.

posted by Peowpeowpeowlasers [231 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 20:56

15 Likes

Today i had a case of impatience .

Coming into a 40kph zone in " Bike Friendly Tirol " , i was honked by a people mover , passing close though the road was empty . As there was traffic ahead i was able to tail the driver to a destination about 2km further through the village .

Stopped outside the house , where he was dropping the passenger , i knocked on the driver window . When he lowered it i asked if he spoke English ? No , so i asked in Deutsch , " Why the Klaxon " ? When he did not understand " Klaxon , i tapped on the steering wheel causing the klaxon .

He then backhanded me across the mouth , hard enough to knock me off the bike . I went to the Polizei , whilst explaining situation he fronted in to see his " pals "!

Long story short , " No broken skin with visit to Doctor/Dentist 2 , no cause for them to act ! Was reminded that i had complained to Polizei , more often than Austrian Cyclists ! Told to ride the Cycle paths , which go nowhere that i go for Shopping purposes let alone Training purposes .

When a clear case of assault is too hard , not surprising that a death is treated as cavalierly as in this article .

Reading of yet another Pro Racer killed whilst training reminds me that Cyclists are too busy reading about "ncidents " but UNWILLING to put their name to a way to help solve the " issues "!

Wishing ALL who sign this petition , complements of the Festive Season , the rest , WATCH YOUR BACK !

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/ioc-chairman-thomas-bach-create-a...

Photo that can't be loaded here : message :

20+years for killing with a Gun !

slap on the wrist for mowing down a Cyclist with a "Oops "!

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [406 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 21:14

19 Likes

Another abysmal result for road safety.

All of this in an age when kids can no longer play an obviously lethal game of conkers at school due to the immense risk and fear of prosecution and don't even try to lift a box up at work without having completed the correct certification!

It beggars belief that you can drive a few tonnes of metal into another human being and watch the legal system effectively guide a group of people into considering that action to be merely careless.

FFS these are lives!

Government assisted genocide given the rising numbers of the past and the future.

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [204 posts]
24th December 2013 - 18:50

16 Likes