Driver who killed charity cyclist while retrieving sat-nav convicted by jury

Motorist had admitted causing death by careless driving, but found guilty on dangerous driving charge

by Simon_MacMichael   June 26, 2011  

Gavel

A motorist who killed a cyclist as he checked that his satellite navigation device was still working after it had fallen off the windscreen has been found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

The victim, 37-year-old Arthur Platt from Lyndhurst, Hampshire, had been taking part in a charity ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End to raise money for Help for Heroes when he was killed in July last year on the dual carriageway A442 in Telford, Shropshire.

The driver, 47-year-old Stuart Cook from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, had pleaded guilty to a charge of causing death by careless driving. He returned a not guilty plea to the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving, but was convicted by a unanimous decision of the jury at Shrewsbury Crown Court, reports the Shropshire Star.

Mr Platt was airlifted to hospital but died of the injuries he sustained in the incident, which happened when Cook, who was returning home in his BMW from a business meeting, took his eyes off the road to retrieve the device and check the screen was still lit, the court heard.

Speaking after the jury had returned its verdict, the victim’s widow Madeleine said that her husband, who had himself been unable to join the services on physical grounds, was a “special man” who was determined to raise money for the armed forces charity.

“He was a very special man,” she said. “We are not vindictive people, but if one positive can come of this it is that if people can read what happened and make sure it never happens to anyone else.

“He would want to prevent something like this happening again,” she continued.

“Help for Heroes was a charity that is very close to his heart and he raised more than £10,000 for them.”

Mr Platt’s sisters, Marie Molloy and Kim McKye, said: “A wonderful and much loved young man lost his life owing to the dangerous actions of Stuart Alan Cook. We respect the jury’s verdict and we are grateful for justice.

“Whatever the outcome there can be no winners today because, as much as we wish with all our hearts to wind back time and bring Arthur back, that simply cannot be done.

They added: “Finally, we realise that this has been a difficult time for the family of Mr Cook and we wish to extend our sympathy to them.”

Sentencing will take place at a later date.
 

10 user comments

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It'll be a heavy sentence as that's a serious charge. The defendant will be looking at several years in prison I reckon and can forget about ever driving again as no insurance company would want his business without asking for a premium so scandalously huge no-one would envisage paying it.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2454 posts]
26th June 2011 - 22:08

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Sad story but perhaps it will be a reminder for some of the idiots on the road.

Have noticed more satnavs attached to windscreens recently. One obscured the driver's face from the angle I was at, which in turn surely means he/she can't see me. Why is this not illegal? After all, a crack in the wrong part of your windscreen is not allowed. I'd be quite happy if they were banned entirely.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2220 posts]
27th June 2011 - 10:25

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There are numerous reasons why Sat-nav tools will never be banned from cars. For a start, there is a major commercial sector to consider. And perhaps more importantly, sat-nav equipment in general reduces congestion and journey times by routing drivers through areas that avoid jams, making better use of existing infrastructure. There should be better awareness of how to use them properly. If you were to say that field of view should be a topic for legislation, then many common models such as Vauxhall's Meriva would be amongst those banned from our roads. This is because its thick windscreen pillars obscure a significant portion of the driver's field of view.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2454 posts]
27th June 2011 - 11:36

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I think a far more serious subject for concern is with vehicles that have retro-fitted TV screens on the dash - visible by the driver. These should be banned.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2454 posts]
27th June 2011 - 12:37

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OldRidgeback wrote:
If you were to say that field of view should be a topic for legislation, then many common models such as Vauxhall's Meriva would be amongst those banned from our roads. This is because its thick windscreen pillars obscure a significant portion of the driver's field of view.

I think this situation is more to do with protecting the occupants of these vehicles, yes thick A post pillars are common on many makes and models of car but the manafacturer will argue that they increase safety and as such will never be legislated against.
However the placement of aftermarket Sat Nav screens is in most cases I have witnessed appalling, many drivers place them in totally inapropriate areas of the windscreen causing a serious safety issue. If you cant eat/drink behined the wheel why is it that you can obscure a huge area of your windscreen???

Riding the road to nowhere

Gepin's picture

posted by Gepin [62 posts]
27th June 2011 - 20:08

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Anything that distracts a driver from concentrating on the road should be banned.... It would save me a lot of time cutting these people from out out of cars/vans/lorry's etc. It would also make me feel safer sharing the roads as a driver and cyclist with these idiots.

Riding the road to nowhere

Gepin's picture

posted by Gepin [62 posts]
27th June 2011 - 20:12

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OldRidgeback wrote:
sat-nav equipment in general reduces congestion and journey times by routing drivers through areas that avoid jams, making better use of existing infrastructure.

Piffle. In other words: send some of them along inappropriate roads, thereby spreading the congestion around. Anyone who thinks that congestion, pollution or collisions could be reduced by having the same number of vehicles use backstreets, tiny rural lanes or parallel routes which then also get congested needs their bumps felt. And we've all known people with tales of the satnav instructing them to turn into a field or various other stupid scenarios.

I expect satnav units won't be banned from vehicle windscreens because commercial users, manufacturers, retailers and self-interested pressure groups (e.g. AA, ABD) will be up in arms prediciting it as the end of civilisation as we know it and it infringes drivers' civil liberties, blah blah blah.

However, this doesn't get round the fact that putting a sizeable electronic gadget in front of the driver is obscuring their view, which in my opinion is increasing the risk of a collision. That this box is illuminated, visually animated and supposedly offering a route to your destination only serves to further distract the driver.

Our company regularly get telephone calls from delivery drivers and visitors because our office is not located exactly where the postcode tells the satnav to go, sometimes even after we've told them this is the case, so it's not helping them or us.

It's like smartphones. They have their uses, but I wonder how the vast majority of people managed to live and breathe without one constantly at their side/in their hand? Bunch of numpties.

(yes, the last bit is more rant than reasoned argument)

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2220 posts]
28th June 2011 - 13:16

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Re: TV screens...
They are banned - long ago. Unless the legislation against them has been repealed, they are definitely illegal. No TV screen can be in a position to be visible from the driving seat.
It's just another one of those laws that's not enforced much - although it is occasionally.
The windscreen obscuration problem is occasionally jumped on too - it is illegal to plaster the windscreen with too much clutter and people have been done for it. It was usually loads of those stupid triangular caravan/holiday resort stickers, as I recall. Once again, it's hardly enforced now and that's more down to the lack of traffic police who were clued up on such things.

posted by Cauld Lubter [124 posts]
2nd July 2011 - 23:53

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Cauld Lubter wrote:
Re: TV screens...
They are banned - long ago. Unless the legislation against them has been repealed, they are definitely illegal. No TV screen can be in a position to be visible from the driving seat.

Or in a position where it could distract other drivers, too.

posted by arowland [111 posts]
20th December 2011 - 17:51

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"I'd be quite happy if they were banned entirely."

It's not the sat-nav that is to blame, it's the twat driving.

"Anything that distracts a driver from concentrating on the road should be banned.... It would save me a lot of time cutting these people from out out of cars/vans/lorry's etc. It would also make me feel safer sharing the roads as a driver and cyclist with these idiots."

That's easy to say but where do you draw the line? Perhaps we should ban mpg and trip computers or even ban speedometers as they can be a distraction. What about ban passengers because they are definitely a distraction. Then there's oncoming headlights, and as for foglights, don't get me started on that one.

Andy

posted by jazzdude [61 posts]
16th February 2012 - 15:36

1 Like