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Cycling UK repeats call for new offence to be created with stronger penalties for offenders

A Leicester taxi driver has lost an appeal against his conviction earlier this year of allowing his passenger to open the door of the cab, causing the death of cyclist Sam Boulton who was knocked from his bike into the path of a van.

Farook Yusuf Bhikhu had pleaded not guilty at his original trial in June at Loughborough Magistrates’ Court in June of the offence of opening a car door, or causing or permitting it to be opened, so as to cause injury.

Upon conviction, he was fined £300 plus a £30 victim surcharge and £625 court costs. After the rejection of his appeal today, he has been ordered to pay additional costs of £300.

Bhikhu was parked on a double yellow line outside Leicester railway station when his passenger, Mandy Chapple, opened the door as Mr Boulton, a schoolteacher who turned 26 that day, approached.

In March, Chapple was fined £80 after entering a guilty plea to the same offence that Bhikhu was later convicted of.

The driver of the van, Nigel Ingram, stood trial the same month and pleaded guilty to failure to stop and driving while over the legal limit for alcohol.

He was given a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and conditional on attending a 12-week course for treatment for his alcohol addiction.

Ingram was also banned from driving for 28 months.

After Bhikhu lost his appeal today, the victim’s father, Jeff Boulton, said: “I’m relieved to hear the court uphold the decision from June earlier this year.

“In July 2016 our family received a lifelong sentence, because Bhikhu parked irresponsibly to save a couple of minutes and took no responsibility for his passenger’s actions.

“Despite Bhikhu’s major role in the events leading to the death of my son, his refusal to see how his action resulted in the death of a wonderful and talented young man, is almost as upsetting as the way the law trivialises car-dooring.”

Mr Boulton and the charity Cycling UK are campaigning for the government to introduce a new offence of causing serious injury or death by car-dooring with higher penalties than the maximum £1,000 fine currently in force.

Duncan Dollimore, head of advocacy and campaigns at Cycling UK, commented: “This tragic case should act as a reminder for all drivers about their responsibility to ensure passengers do not cause injury or death when exiting a vehicle.

“Sam’s needless death also highlights the need for urgent action from the government to change the law on car-dooring offences.

“A maximum £1,000 fine is inadequate for entirely avoidable behaviour which can kill.

“This is why Cycling UK and the families of those affected by dooring have asked government to introduce a new offence of causing or permitting serious injury or death by car dooring, with tougher penalties.”

He added: “Driver education must be improved. In early September, Cycling UK wrote to Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, about the potential to educate UK drivers and their passengers about the “Dutch Reach”, a technique which can help reduce the risk of car-dooring.

“We are still waiting for his response.”

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.