A motorist has gone on trial at the Old Bailey, charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of a cyclist on London’s Holloway Road last year. The prosecution says the driver opened his car door without looking, and that tinting applied to the vehicle's windows just weeks before the fatal incident had reduced visibility to 17 per cent of what it should have been.
The victim, Sam Harding, had been due to move in with his girlfriend the day he was killed, and had been cycling to her flat at the time of the fatal incident.
The 25-year-old, who lived in Crouch End and worked for an online travel firm, died instantly when he was run over by a bus after the door of the car parked in a lay-by next to the bus lane was suddenly opened in his path.
Kenan Aydogdu, aged 32 of Hindhead, Surrey denies the charge of manslaughter.
Unconfirmed reports immediately following the incident in August 2011 suggested that the door of Aydogdu’s car had been opened by a child who was travelling in it, but the Old Bailey heard that the accused had admitted opening the door himself.
However, he told police that he had only opened the door a little way, that he had checked behind him to see if anyone was coming, and maintained that Mr Harding had lost control of his bike and it was impossible to say whether he had hit his car or the bus first.
According to the London Evening Standard, the incident was captured by CCTV cameras fitted to the bus, and witnesses traveling on the bus have also said that he opened the door all the way.
Bobbie Cheema, speaking for the prosecution, told the court that Mr Harding “was cycling perfectly properly in the bus lane as he was entitled to do. A bus was behind him.
“Aydogdu was sitting in his parked car alongside the bus lane. Passengers on the bus saw him open his car door into the path of the cyclist who collided with it and Sam Harding was flung under the bus.
“He died because the bus ran over him and crushed him to death.”
Ms Cheema said that the jury needed to consider two questions.
“Firstly whether Aydogdu did just open his car door a little to see if it was safe to open it fully, or whether he opened it fully in one go without taking any care to check whether any traffic or a cyclist was coming.
“Secondly, some time after Aydogdu had bought his Audi in July 2011 he had arranged to have his side windows darkened with a plastic tinting film which affected detrimentally his ability to look out of his window and the ability of a cyclist to look into the car to see if there was any chance of someone opening the door. The side window through which the driver looked to his right only had 17 per cent transparency.”
Mr Justice Saunders, presiding over the case, warned members of the jury that the case “is capable of giving rise to a great deal of emotions not just because of what happened but because of the concerns about the number of injuries on the roads of London”.
He went on: “Put out of your minds any general views you may have about the behaviour of motorists or cyclists and decide the case on the evidence.”
The trial continues.
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.