Driver found not guilty of causing death of promising cyclist
Driver didn't see Lewis Balyckyi without lights in dusk
A man has been found not guilty of causing the death by dangerous driving of a promising young cyclist.
Lewis Balyckyi, 18, who was due to move France as part of the John Ibbotson Fund, which sponsors young riders to race with a semi-professional team for a season, was cycling along North Road in Bretherton, near Chorley when he was hit by a van driven by Leslie Pitblado, 50.
The court was told by witnesses that Balyckyi was wearing dark clothing and had no lights on his bike before the incident on January 18 last year, despite it being dark at the time.
Other motorists had told a trial into the accident at Preston Crown Court that the teenager did not have any lights on his bike and was wearing dark clothing, despite it being dark at the time.
Mr Pitblado, of St Annes Road, Leyland, showed no emotion as a unanimous not guilty verdict was delivered by a jury yesterday.
Judge Michael Byrne said he could not let the case pass without offering “the sympathies and condolences of the court” to Lewis’s family, who cried in court, the Lancashire Evening Post reported.
He said: “Lewis Balyckyi had every expectation of achieving glittering international prizes in his chosen sport of racing cycling and the memory and example of this happy young man will remain forever with his parents and his sister.
“I would not wish Lewis’ family to leave this court without realising that the memory and example of this man will live on forever.”
Mr Pitblado had been driving with some work colleagues, including his son, who spotted Balyckyi just before the crash. Mr Pitblado sad he had been completely unaware of the cyclist, and Reverend Nicholas Davis, of All Saints Church, Becconsall, told the court how he nearly hit Lewis just minutes earlier.
The court also heard how Balyckyi, who was described as having his ‘head down’ had told his mother that evening that he needed new lights for his bike.
Lewis Balyckyi’s friends have set up a trust in his name, from which a grant will be given in association with British Cycling to a deserving junior rider to help them with their costs in aiming to fulfill their dream. More details can be found at LBTF.