Another "careless" driver walks free after killing a cyclist

"Momentary misjudgement" to blame for rider's death

by Mark Appleton   January 27, 2011  

Liverpool Crown Court.jpg

It’s a depressingly familiar and all too predictable pattern.

Driver kills cyclists, pleads guilty to “careless” driving and walks free with a sentence that provides neither satisfaction to the bereaved nor a deterrent to other “careless” motorists.

The latest case has come to our attention via the Wirral Globe and involves a 44-year old grandmother, travelling in a car with her three daughters and grand-daughter.

At about 4pm on April 11, 2010 on the Wirral’s North Wallasey Approach Road, Wendy Tsang was driving a Vauxhall Vectra that ploughed into the back of cyclist Matthew Chapman, 28. The painter and decorator, was thrown into the air, striking the windscreen and roof of the car before landing on the carriageway. He suffered multiple injuries including skull, neck and rib fractures and died in hospital later that day.

Tsang had overtaken vehicles on the dual carriageway and was attempting to pull across the nearside lane and exit via a slip road on to Leasowe Road in a single manoeuvre. At Liverpool Crown Court her defence lawyer, Lee Bonner, said Mrs Tsang made a "momentary misjudgement."

The prosecutor Geoffrey Greenwood said Mrs Tsang had pleaded guilty to the offence of careless driving but said she had suggested that the cyclist had moved to the left as she attempted to pass on his inside.

Judge John Roberts told Tsang: “There was insufficient room for you to pass. You drove too close to him and failed to allow for the possibility he would wobble and you collided with the rear of that cycle as you tried to enter the slip road.”

He ordered her to carry out 200 hours unpaid work, banned her from driving for three years and imposed a four month curfew using an electronic tag.

Following the sentence Mr Chapman’s relatives expressed their dissatisfaction with the level of punishment handed down, particularly, they said, in the light of lengthy jail sentences recently imposed on politicians convicted of fraud, crimes in which there was no loss of life.

13 user comments

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It's interesting how many of these "moments" of misjudgement or lapses in concentration occur in the close vicinity of cyclists - I'd suggest that driving standards are well below acceptable levels for much longer than a mere moment. It seems far too easy to keep both your liberty and licence after ending another humans life! Thoughts with the family's of all the victims.

posted by 37monkey [144 posts]
27th January 2011 - 18:03




posted by OldRidgeback [2579 posts]
27th January 2011 - 19:19

1 Like

i have had this rammed down my throat in my last job for years, the numbers might not be right but, i think it makes the point, for every cyclist killed there alot more who for the grace of god.

There needs to be work on driving standards and the law needs to see an accident for what it is a preventable occurance.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1889 posts]
27th January 2011 - 19:35


You know it's depressing but I applaud RoadCC for bringing these miscarriages of justice to our notice

posted by gazzaputt [196 posts]
27th January 2011 - 20:01


The description in the article seems to indicate a deliberate and dangerous manouevre, carried out with 3 children in the car as well, endangering other drivers as well as killing the cyclist. Why was this not in the category of causing death by dangerous driving?

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [560 posts]
27th January 2011 - 20:11


I agree Gazzaputt, such a valuable job you are doing Road CC. This is so distressing. The contrast between the perpetrator and the victim is too much to bear.. I so often feel this, particularly when the victim is a finely honed athlete and the guilty party is a totally unthinking shell of a person. So tragic.

I have never allowed myself a momentary misjudgement whilst driving. The responsibility is just too great. I believe drivers should pass an advanced driving test after two years of passing or lose their licence.

RIP Matthew.

posted by Titivulus [9 posts]
27th January 2011 - 20:35


If you kill someone when your behind the wheel, and it was your driving that was at fault, it should be automatically classed as dangerous driving! Is this not obvious!

How awful for the family to loose their loved one and endure such a miscarriage of justice! Shame on you judge and the pathetic justice system we have in the UK too!

for me - The ride is about adventure, camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment that comes after a long day in the saddle.

Mountain-Nic's picture

posted by Mountain-Nic [119 posts]
27th January 2011 - 22:06


Driving standards will only improve when mandatory gaol sentences for killing on the road are enforced.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1108 posts]
27th January 2011 - 23:27

1 Like

Unfortunately this deplorable situation where lenient sentencing for drivers who kill cyclists will only end when the judiciary see things from a cyclists point of view as they are too wedded to motoring themselves. So, to that end, i would suggest that any judge presiding over cases such as these get on a bicycle and ride on the road to get a sense of how vulnerable cyclists are. Otherwise they are ignorant of the situation and, as such, unable to give an informed decision.
I also think it's time to abolish the careless driving plea as this is no form of deterrent whatsoever - the crown prosecution service seem to use this lesser sentence as a lazy get out option rather than pursuing the guilty party with the full power of the law and charging them with the more appropriate charge of dangerous driving.

posted by PRINCIPIA PHIL [59 posts]
28th January 2011 - 0:31


right then ... I shall carelessly acquire an heavy
machine gun then carelessly proceed to the nearest
motorway overpass and carelessly gun down ALL passing
cars - wonder what sentence I may get ?????

This is beyond pathetic and we're not even seen as 3rd
class anymore. I wonder how long it'll be before there's
no sentance at all for killing a rider .....

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [922 posts]
28th January 2011 - 9:00

1 Like

Thanks for that graphic mrmo it neatly illustrates why something needs to be done to educate drivers to realise that when an incident is happening the vulnerable road user involved has no way of knowing whether the outcome will be a near miss, minor incident involving maybe a scratch to car or bike and some angry words exchanged, or a major incident that will involve the cyclist being carted off to hospital or worse. All of which only makes riding on the road more stressful and generally adds to the already massive levels of stress for all road users.

One other thing we should point out to though is that cycling is still a very safe way to get around, when we post these stories we don't want to give a distorted view of the general situation, but we feel it is important to highlight where the justice system is letting down the victim, and unfortunately there seem to have been way too many such incidences of that happening lately.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
28th January 2011 - 9:46


Road CC have you every collated all these type of stories together and given them to someone in government? I'm dismayed by the similar pattern and outcome. A shrug of the shoulders from the guilty a pissant fine and very little else.
I bike commute and I have at least one or two close ones a week where Cars can't wait and undercut me or drift too close while on mobile or Just don't see me. I love going to work by bike. My approach its to assume that everyone in a car is a Wanker and to expect the worst of them. Its a Sad way to think I admit but its served me well so far.
There needs to be more serious, well publicised, consequences for the People found Guilty of these offences, until then I will continue reading these stories with sorrow and frustration. A bigger fine/sentence won't bring back the dead but may act as a deterrent.

posted by Dog72 [108 posts]
28th January 2011 - 15:23


Collating these "careless" driving stories could be a very good idea.

Perhaps we need to make this less about cyclists, and more about children? More votes in it, perhaps?

The Dutch had their successes, I think, largely because of "stop the child deaths" and similar campaigns.

The nutjobs can rant and rave about how cyclists "ride on the pavement and run red lights and don't have lights and don't even pay 'road tax' and murder policemen and...", because they don't cycle and they don't know anyone who does.

But everyone knows children, and (most people) wish them well.

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [602 posts]
29th January 2011 - 14:32

1 Like