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Cyclist killed yards from home unwittingly caught up in car chase between feuding drivers

Five men have been convicted at the Old Bailey in London of manslaughter and causing the death by dangerous driving of a cyclist who unwittingly got caught up in a feud between them that resulted in a high-speed car chase through a London suburb.

Graham Thwaites, aged 51, who worked for a bank in the City of London, had been cycling home from Petts Wood train station when he was hit by a Mitsubishi Shogun driven by 35-year-old Andrew Carlisle on Leesons Hill, Orpington in September 2008.

Carlisle’s vehicle was being pursued at speeds of up to 60mph in the 30mph residential area by a Vauxhall Vectra containing containing William Dennard, 24, David Cook, 24, George Webb 27, and Shane Webb, 24.

During the trial, which opened last month, Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, had told the court that the Shogun was “completely out of control” at the time of the fatal collision, and that it had twice been rammed by the chasing car.

He added that there was “great deal of animosity" between Carlisle and the four occupants of the Astra, apparently arising from a dispute over the cost of a rottweiler puppy.

The fatal crash happened just yards from the home where Mr Thwaites lived with his wife and two children.

Local newspaper the News Shopper quoted Detective Inspector Mark Cam, of the Metropolitan Police's road death investigation unit, as saying: "Mr Thwaites lost his life because Carlisle, Dennard, Cook and the Webbs were intent on airing their personal grievances out on a public road.

"They all drove dangerously, recklessly, above the speed limit and without any consideration for members of the public.

"This wasn't simply a case of bad driving, it was manslaughter and I am pleased with today's verdict. I hope it goes some small way to providing comfort to Mr Thwaites' family who have acted with great dignity throughout this investigation."
MrThwaite's widow, Hazel, added: "This senseless act of driving cost Graham his life,he is missed by all of his family and friends."

The men have been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on July 15.

 

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.

4 comments

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 6 years ago
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Great that all five were convicted of manslaughter.

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 6 years ago
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What's the maximum sentence for a manslaughter charge?

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 6 years ago
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You're not gonna like the answer!

"In England and Wales manslaughter has a "discretionary" life sentence, as opposed to the mandatory one for murder. This means the judge's discretion is used. He could impose any sentence at all, from an unconditional discharge, which means a conviction is recorded but no punishment given, right up to life imprisonment, or even a fine. Fines for manslaughter are normal where the defendant is a company rather than an individual (although it is usually easier to prosecute in such cases as a health and safety breach, as the punishment is the same and the conviction easier to obtain). An individual can expect a sentence of a few years."

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 6 years ago
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OldRidgeback,

All is not lost. It's true that although Life is the maximum sentence, very few people ever get this sentence. However, the Judge will ask for reports on each of the individuals and will take into account the circumstances and each of their involvement. I would personally guess that as they caused a death with a motor vehicle in a deliberate or reckless fashion, they are probably all looking at fairly lengthy sentences.