Cyclist killed when driver distracted by spider
Driver’s lapse of concentration leads to death of a Derby cyclist on a charity ride

A cyclist on a charity ride was killed and another was badly injured when a driver was distracted when trying to throw a spider out of her car.

Simon Evans, 37, from Derby, was killed in the crash on the A30 in Devon in September. He was on the second day of a charity ride from Land’s End to Derby.

His brother in law, Keith Richards, also 37 and from Reading, suffered leg injuries.

The driver, Georgina Mills, of Okehampton, Devon, admitted causing death by dangerous driving at Exeter Crown Court. The 23-year-old was given a two-year driving ban, a two-year community order and sentenced to 200 hours unpaid work.

The court was told that Mills was driving to work when the crash happened at Tedburn St Mary as a result of a spider dropping in front of her.

Prosecutor Richard Crabb said: "She grabbed it, opened the window and chucked it out of the car."

Mr Crabb said Mills only realised she had struck the cyclist when she had looked back at the road. He added: "It is estimated that she took her eyes off the road for two seconds."

Mills, a civil engineer, told police at the scene that she was not a dangerous driver and said it had been a 'lapse of concentration'.

The court was told he had been riding behind Keith Richards, and that he had been inside the rumble strip – not on the main road – when he was hit. He was pronounced dead at hospital an hour later.

Defence barrister Rupert Taylor said that apart from the death and injury caused, there were no other aggravating features like speed, racing or drink.

He said that Mills was never going to drive again and described her as a "decent, productive, hard-working member of the community".

The court was told that Mills had a clean driving record, no previous convictions and excellent prospects.

On sentencing her, Judge Graham Cottle said: "There is no basis for disbelieving your account that you took your eyes temporarily off the road to deal with a creature. You have never sought to blame any external factors in this case."

Speaking after the sentence Keith Richards told the BBC: "The sentence passed can in no way repair the sense of loss that we feel and continue to feel each day."

Lifelong lover of most things cycling-related, from Moulton Mini adventures in the 70s to London bike messengering in the 80s, commuting in the 90s, mountain biking in the noughties and road cycling throughout. Editor of Simpson Magazine (www.simpsonmagazine.cc).