A milkman who carried on with his round after his milk float hit a cyclist, leaving him in a coma for six months and with permanent brain injuries meaning he has to receive round-the-clock care, has been found guilty of careless driving. But a jury acquitted him of the greater offence of causing serious injury through dangerous driving.
Preston Crown Court heard that David Reid, aged 71 and from Barrow, Cumbria, told a 15-year-old boy who was travelling with him on his milk float, “I think he’s dead,” after he stopped to check on the cyclist, 36-year-old Paul Reynolds, a submariner stationed in the town, reports the Liverpool Echo.
Despite his vehicle’s windscreen being smashed, Reid, who did not have a mobile phone, continued to make deliveries for half an hour, stopping at a post office to call for help. He then returned to the scene in his car where police, who had been alerted by a passing motorist, arrested him.
The incident happened at around 6.15am on 27 February 2013 on Bank Lane in Barrow, which Reid said was unlit and “like looking down a black hole.” The court was told that Mr Reynolds’ bike did not have lights and that he was not wearing reflective clothing.
According to prosecuting counsel Brian McKenna, “The prosecution say that the way that this accident occurred was that at all times Mr Reid’s vehicle was on the wrong side of the road. They were not going very fast, certainly no more than 20mph.”
The driver however, who has been a milkman for more than 50 years and had an unblemished driving record, maintained that he was driving carefully, that he was making a right turn and that his speed was lower.
He said: “There was a whoosh across the front of my screen. I didn’t know what it was. I heard a bang.
“I was in the middle of the carriageway, probably one wheel over the white line as I started to turn. The van was completely illuminated.
“While trying to make the turn I was doing about eight miles an hour.”
The 15-year-old accompanying Reid told the court: “Dave got out to see if he was all right, he said hello to him and he came back and said to me ‘I think he’s dead’.
“He kept saying ‘What do I do?’ and then he went ‘Cyclists, they are dangerous on the road – they do not pay attention.’ ”
Mr Reynolds was thrown several metres onto a grass verge as a result of the collision and Reid recalled: “I said to him ‘can you hear me?’ a few times. There was no response. He was just lying there.
“I didn’t dare touch him. I went back to the van and as I did that I looked around to see if any house lights were on. There was only one about twenty yards away, but it only had a sort of landing light.”
He was unable to explain why he had carried on with his milk round, saying that the incident had left him in a “confused” state of mind, adding, “It isn’t in my nature at all to be callous.”
Reid is due to be sentenced on 4 August, although Judge Graham Knowles has told him not to expect a custodial sentence.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.