Medical experts uncertain whether motorist fell asleep or if incident due to undiagnosed Parkinson's Disease...

A 73-year-old motorist who killed a cyclist has received a six-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to causing his death through careless driving, although medical experts are not certain if he fell asleep at the wheel or whether undiagnosed Parkinson’s Disease lay behind the incident.

Cyclist James Greenwood, aged 74, died in hospital from multiple injuries sustained when he was struck from behind by a car driven by John Plummer on Darlington Back Lane in Stockton last November, reports the Northern Echo.

Sentencing Plummer at Teeside Crown Court, Judge Peter Bowers said: "This sort of case raises a lot of emotions, and I have to be careful that I reflect in any sentence not only the tragic outcome, but also the culpability you must bear for the death of another human being."

David James, defending Plummer, said in mitigation that he was unaware that he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and that he was not feeling tired prior to the incident.

He added that Plummer, who lost his partner when she was killed by a vehicle on a zebra crossing ten years ago, did not plan to drive again.

Shaun Dodds, speaking for the prosecution, said that speeding was not a factor in the case, and that Plummer recalled having seen Mr Greenwood and getting ready to overtake him.

The court heard from neurological experts who revealed that Plummer had been suffering from undiagnosed Parkinson’s Disease which could have caused the incident, although they believe it is more likely that it was due to his falling asleep momentarily at the wheel.

Plummer had admitted causing death by careless driving at his trial last month, but denied the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving, according to a report in the Evening Gazzette.

“In light of all the material and evidence that the prosecution now have they are taking the position not to proceed against you the charge on the first count,” said Judge Lee Spittle, who was sitting at the trial.

“They have accepted your plea on the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving,” the judge added.


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.