Jury fails to reach verdict in lorry driver death case

Argument centres on whether cyclist was on or off the carriageway when HGV hit him

by Sarah Barth   April 13, 2013  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

A jury has failed to reach a verdict in the case of a lorry driver accused of causing the death of a cyclist by dangerous driving - and the Crown has 14 days to decide whether he should face a retrial.

Paul Dove, 54, hit Christopher Paul Griffiths, 50, on the A19 southbound with his Mercedes heavy goods vehicle. After deliberating for five hours and 17 minutes the foreman said there was no possibility of reaching a verdict.

Mr Griffiths was cycling home from work at about 7am on Monday, January 23, last year.

At the trial at Teesside Crown Court, Mr Dove denied causing death by careless driving, although witnesses say that Mr Griffiths was outside the rumble strip in the hard shoulder, and so Mr Dove must have left the marked lane in order to hit him - an allegation Mr Dove denies.

Prosecutor Paul Cleasby said other drivers had seen Mr Griffiths and were able to avoid him.

According to Gazette Live, he said of Dove: “Had he paid attention, had he been watching what he was doing, no collision would have occurred on January 23, resulting in a tragic loss of life.”

Stuart Driver QC, representing Dove, said the jury couldn’t be sure that the lorry had crossed the line. He said the defendant was an experienced driver, with a “great” driving record, was well rested and early in his journey.

In an interview Mr Dove told police officers the cyclist was not riding but standing next to his bike and was on the line, not beyond it, the court heard.

But police said the bike was between Mr Griffith's legs when emergency services arrived at the scene.

PC Robin Turner, who investigated the collision, said all the witnesses had seen Mr Griffiths cycling in the hard shoulder.

He said: “They should never have come into contact if both are in their respective areas.”

Mr Dove said he saw a “flash” then realised he had hit something. He said: “I hit the anchors as hard as I could, stayed in a straight line, stopped it, pulled it over.”

12 user comments

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Someone is not telling the truth and seeing as one of those involved is dead i suppose we shall never know who eh?

posted by Some Fella [762 posts]
13th April 2013 - 16:54

2 Likes

Why does it even matter? Are they saying it's ok to mow down and kill a person as long as they are in your lane?

posted by mbthegreat [8 posts]
13th April 2013 - 18:56

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Obviously some ardent anti-cyclists on that jury.

posted by paulfg42 [375 posts]
13th April 2013 - 19:23

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Resident (part time) lorry driver here..

I've been driving in an artic, fully rested, quiet road and all of a sudden I've been edging into the hard shoulder, lorries handle completely different cars and unlike cars take longer to 'correct' once they have gone off track, was I driving dangerously when my lorry drifted over? Of course not.

The charge against the driver was causing death by dangerous driving, from the information in the story it's not clear, certainly to me that he was doing that.

To turn it around to cycling, if you were riding down the high street in a 'normal' fashion and struck a pedestrian, it doesn't automatically mean that you were 'dangerous'.

Sorry if that goes against 'the whole world is against cyclists' attitude that is sometimes prevalent on here.

posted by thebungle [115 posts]
13th April 2013 - 20:15

3 Likes

For all anyone knows the lorry driver could have been in his lane, the cyclist in the hard shoulder and then was reaching for a bottle or for any other reason just weaved for a second. That's all it takes. Since there really is NO concrete evidence for what happens, you can't make a conviction, and rightly so.

Municipal Waste's picture

posted by Municipal Waste [190 posts]
13th April 2013 - 20:48

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@bungle that is of course true that lorries are more susceptible to changes (side wind, etc..) but did you not read the article?

Mr Dove told the police in his statement that the cyclist was NOT riding but standing. Yet when the police turned up the bike was inbetween the cyclists legs. That to me is a blatant lie by Mr Dove. In which he should of been convicted, you can not ignore the EVIDENCE and that is what clearly has happened with some of the jury.

So if that's not CONCRETE evidence 'MunicipleWaste' then you too are really turning a blind eye.

posted by toothache90 [35 posts]
13th April 2013 - 22:06

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toothache90 wrote:
@bungle that is of course true that lorries are more susceptible to changes (side wind, etc..) but did you not read the article?

Mr Dove told the police in his statement that the cyclist was NOT riding but standing. Yet when the police turned up the bike was inbetween the cyclists legs. That to me is a blatant lie by Mr Dove. In which he should of been convicted, you can not ignore the EVIDENCE and that is what clearly has happened with some of the jury.

So if that's not CONCRETE evidence 'MunicipleWaste' then you too are really turning a blind eye.

Regardless of whether or not the driver is lying that does not equal dangerous driving.

If you were hit by a 44t lorry you would not simply fall over, in all my accidents be it road or MTB, it's very rare that I've ended up with the bike between my legs like I simply fell over.

posted by thebungle [115 posts]
13th April 2013 - 22:16

3 Likes

Would be interesting to see the Judges summing up, assuming they actually do that. Irrespective of where the cyclist was, other drivers saw him. A HGV driver of many years should have spotted a potential danger and reacted and by that I mean move out even if the cyclist was on the hard shoulder, wobbling dangerously whatever should have been given space. Not sure the legal issue here CPS have been criticised in past for going for lesser charges as more likely to get a conviction. In this case where from very limited info it is most likely the driver was'nt obviously driving in some sort of reckless way then the jury definitely needed guidance of some sort.

posted by antigee [152 posts]
14th April 2013 - 9:54

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I'm confused. If the lorry driver is telling the truth how did he hit a man he saw well enough to recongnise that he was standing next to his bike IN the carriageway. Doesn't that seem all a bit odd?

posted by bendertherobot [285 posts]
14th April 2013 - 11:18

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As benderthebot says,
The driver saw him, admits he saw him but still hit him Thinking

posted by cbrndc [12 posts]
14th April 2013 - 15:29

1 Like

a quick review of local press would suggest the charge was actually the lesser one of "death through careless driving"

posted by antigee [152 posts]
14th April 2013 - 23:46

3 Likes

thebungle wrote:
Resident (part time) lorry driver here..

I've been driving in an artic, fully rested, quiet road and all of a sudden I've been edging into the hard shoulder, lorries handle completely different cars and unlike cars take longer to 'correct' once they have gone off track, was I driving dangerously when my lorry drifted over? Of course not.

Yes, yes you were, if you were not in full control of the enormous vehicle you were driving then you were driving dangerously. What if it was a footpath rather than a hard shoulder?

posted by drfabulous0 [342 posts]
15th April 2013 - 12:13

5 Likes