A jury in South Wales has found the driver of the van that struck and seriously injured Paralympic cycling champion Simon Richardson in August last year guilty of dangerous driving. During the trial this week, Newport Crown Court had heard how farmer Edward Adams had admitted driving while drunk and failing to stop after an accident, reports BBC Wales News.
The incident happened on the A48 near Bridgend on 11 August 2011 and left Richardson in a coma for three weeks and ended his dreams of defending the two Paralympic titles he won at Beijing in 2008. The 44-year-old was on a training ride as part of his preparations to try and qualify for London 2012.
Jane Rowley, on behalf of the prosecution, told the court that not only was Adams was two times over the legal drink drive limit, but also that even when wearing the glasses he uses for driving, he was unable to read a number plate from a distance of four metres, and could only read part of one from two metres.
The Highway Code stipulates that in good daylight, a driver must be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres.
She also said that Adams had tried to conceal his van at his farm but it was found with the assistance of a police helicopter and when examined had a damaged wing and windscreen.
In a statement, witness Gordon Broomfield revealed that he had overtaken both Adams’ van and Richardson prior to the incident.
He described how he checked his rear view mirror expecting the van to pull out to overtake the cyclist then “looked in disbelief” as it struck Richardson, hurling him into the air.
He said that he tried to force the van to pull over, but it drove away from the scene, whereupon he himself stopped and called the emergency services.
The jury was informed that Adams has told police when they interviewed him that he had begun drinking whisky at 6am that morning when he woke up. He said that he had been aware of a car overtaking him, but claimed to have been blinded by sunlight when the incident happened.
He attributed the collision with Richardson to his having hit a sheep, and claimed that was why he did not stop. He stated that the incident had left him shaken and he had continued to drink whisky when he returned home, adding that he was sorry for having hit someone with his van.
Last August’s incident is the second time that Richardson has received serious injuries after being struck by a vehicle while cycling.
In 2001, he was hit by a car while out on a club run, the incident leaving him with no feeling on the left-hand side of his body.
On medical advice, he started cycling again and within a year was racing for Wales on an adapted bicycle that was powered by his right leg.
At the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, he won a gold medal in the LC 3–4 class kilo with a world record time of 1 minute 14.936 second and also won the LC3–4 3km individual pursuit, as well as a silver medal in the LC3 class road time trial.
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.