Oxfordshire man faces jail after being found guilty of killing cyclist

Driver had been drinking and taking cocaine on day teenager was killed

by Simon_MacMichael   September 29, 2011  


An Oxfordshire man faces a jail sentence after being found guilty of causing the death of a teenage cyclist while under the influence of alcohol. The motorist, Jonathan Ashworth, aged 55, from Shipton-on-Cherwell, had also taken cocaine before the incident in which 18-year-old Tom Kahl was killed.

After Ashworth was convicted by a unanimous decision of the jury at Oxford Crown Court, Judge Christopher Compston told him, “Rest assured, you will be facing prison," when he returns for sentencing next month, reports BBC News.

Ashworth, who had borrowed a Range Rover from a neighbour, pleaded guilty to causing death by driving while uninsured and causing death by driving while unlicensed. However, he denied the charge of causing death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol.

The court was told that the victim had been cycling without lights and was listening to his MP3 player when he was killed in July 2010, near Thrupp.

However, Thames Valley Police insisted that did not lessen Ashworth’s responsibility for what had happened, with Sergeant Peter Jell saying: "If he hadn't been drink-driving, if he hadn't been taking cocaine, then the consequences of what happened could have been so different.

"All through this we've never tried to hide that Tom is not blameless,” he continued. “He wasn't displaying lights on his bike and he'd been drinking, but despite that he was still there to be seen and had Mr Ashworth have been paying full attention, then this tragedy could have been avoided."

9 user comments

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Speaks volumes for not wearing earphones when cycling - forget the helmets crap this is the message to put out - 2 teenage cyclists filled by tram & train both wearing earpieces with personal stereos and I suspect we might find many more. makes complaining about mobile phone use by drivers seem a bit hypocritical.

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]
29th September 2011 - 1:03


No lights - what do you expect? I have no sympathy for cyclists who cycle with no lights. Throw in the fact he was listening to headphones and apparently under the influence of alcohol...... Darwin award?

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
29th September 2011 - 1:37


Ach if he could still balance a bike, he wasn't very drunk. That inherent limit is why drink-cycling isn't a big problem. Silly not to have lights or open ears if you could but the driver should still have seen him.

posted by a.jumper [833 posts]
29th September 2011 - 2:53


So the driver was over the alcohol limit , had been taking cocaine, was uninsured and unlicensed. He hit the cyclist from behind.
Yet still a great amount of the article is given to the fact the cyclist had no light and had been drinking.

Missing the fact he was crossing the road:

Crash investigators said Mr Kahl, who was listening to his iPod as he crossed the road without lights on his bike, would have been visible in dipped headlights about 34 to 35 metres away or up to 143m in full-beam lights, but said these figures were obtained from reconstructions in which the driver was expecting to see someone.


So a pedestrian would have been at similar risk.

Just typical of how the media mitigates the blame of a very dangerous driver, when he could have caused a larger accident with another motorvehicle or pedestrian.

posted by thereverent [355 posts]
29th September 2011 - 9:31


I expect to read victim-blaming comments in the mainstream news channels, but on here it's shocking. Cyclists who wear headphones deserve to die? Are you sure that's what you're saying? The jury is satisfied that the uninsured, unlicensed, coke-snorting drunk Range Rover driver drove carelessly (not dangerously???) into the cyclist. Why is that hard for fellow cyclists to accept?


posted by Littlehuan [46 posts]
29th September 2011 - 9:47


Right with you on that. The poor bloke was crossing the road and was hit by an idiot in a tonne or two of metal who was drunk and on drugs. It amazes me that some people can cycle and read the Daily Mail at the same time.

posted by Coleman [331 posts]
29th September 2011 - 10:52


a.jumper wrote:
Ach if he could still balance a bike, he wasn't very drunk. That inherent limit is why drink-cycling isn't a big problem. Silly not to have lights or open ears if you could but the driver should still have seen him.

Have you tried it? I've cycled back after a new years eve party (down a cycle trail) with a group of very inebriated people. We stopped to mend a puncture and one guy (who had been cycling reasonably well) fell over just standing astride his bike. We utterly failed to fix the front wheel puncture despite having two bike mechanics in the party and the woman riding the bike just rode it with a flat tyre - tricky enough when sober.
We would have been complete liabilities on the road.
I'm not trying to make a comment on this very sad story just pointing out that your assertion is very wrong.

posted by FatFreddie [19 posts]
29th September 2011 - 11:22


And what difference would not having his mp3 player have made? As someone who rides 20 miles to and from work everyday (without an mp3 in my ears) I find wind noise covers most traffic sounds until they are right on top of you anyway. I doubt he'd have been able to jump out of the way.

No excuses for no lights though. These days you can get a really good set from Poundland for £1 each - and the batteries in them last ages too. Although, 'as he crossed the road' suggests he may have been side on to the vehicle so I'm not sure lights would have made much difference at all.


posted by Michael5 [121 posts]
29th September 2011 - 18:51

1 Like

> It amazes me that some people can cycle and read the Daily Mail at the same time.

Yeah, the pages would blow about something terrible.

posted by arowland [126 posts]
20th December 2011 - 17:45