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Paul Byrne claimed he had not seen Stewart Gandy

A truck driver charged with causing death by dangerous driving for running over cyclist Stewart Gandy on November 12, 2013 has been found not guilty.

Paul Byrne had already entered a guilty plea on the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving after he hit Mr Gandy on the A530 near Nantwich, reports the Crewe Chronicle's Leanne Palin.

He told the court he had not realised he had hit Mr Gandy. He said he had stopped "by coincidence" just after the bridge where Mr Gandy's body was found to check a rattling noise he thought was a faulty headlight.

When initially questioned by police, Byrne resused to believe he had hit Mr Gandy, and only accepted what had happened when faced with DNA evidence from the front of his truck.

In a statement read to the court earlier in the two-week trial, Mr Gandy's family said he was a well respected member of the cycling community and was not "a risk taker on the roads".

Byrne was adamant he had not seen Mr Gandy as his truck crossed Baddington Lane bridge.

Nicholas Williams, prosecuting, said in his closing statement that Mr Byrne "should have had a clear view of up to 200 metres".

Williams said: “He should have seen him in plenty of time to stop. Instead he ploughed straight into him and killed him. Is this careless or just plain dangerous?”

Nicola Esterian Gatto, defending, told the court that environmental issues such as a low winter sun and hedgerow shadows "could have hindered [Byrne's] view" as he came round the bend.

In his summing up Judge Roger Dutton told the jury it was important to take time in considering all the facts in deciding whether or not Mr Byrne’s driving "fell far below the standard required of a competent driver" — the definition of dangerous driving.

The distinction between careless and dangerous driving is one of the targets of the CTC's Road Justice campaign. In its  overview of traffic law and enforcement, the CTC says "reform is needed so that the legal system effectively prevents bad driving, stops dismissing ‘dangerous’ driving as merely ‘careless’".

Careless driving is defined as driving that "falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver".

The CTC adds: "Bad driving that causes obviously foreseeable danger should be classed as a ‘dangerous’ driving offence. It should not, as often happens, be dismissed merely as ‘careless’ driving.

"Prosecution guidelines need to reflect this in the first instance, but changes to the law itself may also be needed."

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

12 comments

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Housecathst [620 posts] 2 years ago
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"In his summing up Judge Roger Dutton told the jury it was important to take time in considering all the facts in deciding whether or not Mr Byrne’s driving "fell far below the standard required of a competent driver" — the definition of dangerous driving."

This is key, and what did a jury of other drivers say, "no, it totally acceptable to drive along for 200 meters and not see a cyclist"

What a f..king surprise!

This is how low the bar is set for drivers in their killing machines.

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therevokid [1016 posts] 2 years ago
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yet more "low sun" bolloxs .... if you can't see you slow down or
stop ... It's not rocket science and could save someone's life !
when will the courts understand this is an unacceptable
excuse ???

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multifrag [91 posts] 2 years ago
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It seems that more and more deaths appear because of drivers not seeing cyclists. I'm not an expert, but we shouldn't allow blind people driving a big ass vehicle. Not seeing is not an excuse!!! It's like having sex with an underage girl and saying I didn't know. You still had sex with her...

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rnick [145 posts] 2 years ago
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Oddly on a winter's morning I leave for work, I drive up a hill and the sun is sometimes right in my face, it's not a surprise as you know it's about to happen (large yellow object in periphery vision).....but I slow right down to a crawl. It's not hard, takes zero effort and I know 999/1000 times no one is there (dead end lane, rural area) but occasionally dog walker. If I were to drive into someone...there can only be one guilty / at fault party.

HGV driver - absolutely unforgiveable, as a professional driver you really should have foreseen where the sun might be.

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sara d [6 posts] 2 years ago
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This is comforting. ..my uncle was killed last year in practically same circumstance.Went to plea case last week and defendant saying exactly same thing!! So apparently if you say you didnt do it you didn't do it.....great!!British justice at its best!!

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A V Lowe [619 posts] 2 years ago
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In the news reports 2 factors not in this piece

1) the Police arrived at workplace, where truck was based. Driver showed no surprise at being arrested.....

2) the truck had many areas of damage, not all from the impact with DNA identification.

Thought also - DNA implies body material/blood/hair/flesh? still present on truck. 1) did Driver not notice 2) did others at workplace (Transport Manager) not notice.

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Sub5orange [109 posts] 2 years ago
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Just read an article that in 55% of incidents where cyclists are killed the driver gets off without a prison sentence. Obviously there will be cases where the driver was not at fault or where there was joint liability. What would interest me is whether the composition of jury would have an effect on the outcome of cases. Eg would the excuse of "sorry I have not seen you when I run you over from behind" be accepted. If it was made mandatory for a jury to be made up of people who drive and cycle in such cases. Seems to me that if a jury is just made up of people who drive they could be too lenient towards the party that drove. I would find a study in what outcome the composition of a jury had in those cases interesting.

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Leodis [427 posts] 2 years ago
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It gets tiring reading these stories, how long can this go on for?

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Kim [250 posts] 2 years ago
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Another failure of our justice system, it is time that judges where made aware that causing death while driving should NOT be acceptable collateral damage.

When operating heavy and dangerous machinery, the operator should be held fully responsible for the consequences. If people don't want to accept the responsibility then they shouldn't drive.

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FrogBucket [26 posts] 2 years ago
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Another failure of our justice system. Scary the inequality that exists between cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles. Driving in low sun, or with impaired visibility of the road constitutes dangerous driving in my book - if you can't see the road ahead, stop or drive very slowly.

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Housecathst [620 posts] 2 years ago
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How saying "I didn't seem them" is anything other than admitting your guilt I really don't know.

Surely seeing what's in front of you when driving is really the very least that we can hope for from a driver.

How you can kill somebody and be convicted of "careless driving" is a sick, sick joke. Careless is scratching your car or knocking off a wing mirror. At the very least this has to be "dangerous driving" but really it deserves some kind of vehicular homicide charge.

This isn't just about cyclist, this is about justice for the 5 family's a day that have loved ones kill by motorists. How can this be acceptable. In other comments I recently read somebody point out that if we were losing 5 people a day to terrorism we would be living under marshal law with the army on the street. But as it drivers doing the kill nobody gives a shit.

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felixcat [486 posts] 2 years ago
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Housecathst wrote:

In other comments I recently read somebody point out that if we were losing 5 people a day to terrorism we would be living under marshal law with the army on the street. But as it drivers doing the kill nobody gives a shit.

I have read that during the recent troubles in N.I. motorists were killing people at twice the rate of paramilitaries.
But of course there was no internment for dangerous driving.