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Jury found Victoria McClure guilty of death by dangerous driving after she admitted lesser charge of careless driving

A driver who hit and killed a cyclist when she took her eyes off the road to adjust her sat nav has been convicted of death by dangerous driving.

Victoria McClure is almost certain to face a custodial sentence when she returns to court at the end of August.

In a rare move, the jury found Ms McClure guilty of the more serious offence of death by dangerous driving, although she had already pleaded guilty to death by careless driving.

Anthony Hilson was out for a Sunday morning ride on September 9th 2012 when he was hit from behind by McClure on the A4 Bath Road in Twyford, Berkshire.

It was a straight stretch of road and visibility was good, but Ms McClure was adjusting the zoom function on her sat nav.

According to Rhia Weston, a road safety campaigner for the CTC: "Although this was a successful prosecution, the presentation of evidence did cause some concern. The police forensic investigator made no attempt to calculate exactly how long Hilson would have been in McClure’s sight if his speed were taken into consideration."

Prosecutor Matthew Walsh was left to tell the jury, "Assuming she's travelling at the speed limit of 60mph, it takes about 18 seconds to cover the distance - that's the length of time she would have had the cyclist in her view." He added that there were no skidmarks or signs of evasive action at the scene.

The jury did not in the end accept the defence claim that Mr Hilson’s black, red and white cycling gear made him difficult to spot.

Although a strong sentence for dangerous driving leading to the death of a cyclist is welcomed by the CTC, it's not a custodial sentence that they were pushing for in this case, although a representative attended the trial. 

In a statement the organisation said: "CTC does not think that imposing custodial sentences on drivers who cause death is the ideal solution, as in most cases they only present a danger to the public when behind the wheel of a car. Thus, imposing long-term or life-time driving bans is a more effective solution and deterrent to bad driving.

"When drivers have caused danger intentionally or recklessly, or if they have a history of breaching driving bans, long custodial sentences are more appropriate."

Last year, British Cycling and CTC were among organisations that launched a campaign urging for a review of sentencing in cases in which the victim is a cyclist, leading to a meeting with justice minister Helen Grant that the governing body’s director of policy and legal affairs, Martin Gibbs, afterwards called “a significant step forward.”

In February, CTC launched another campaign calling on residents of England and Wales to urge their Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to prioritise road safety.

The organisation said that police forces need to thoroughly investigate road traffic incidents involving vulnerable users including cyclists and ensure the drivers involved face appropriate action.

According to CTC, shortcomings in investigations of such cases result in less evidence being available to the prosecution, which has a knock-on effect in terms of the charges that are brought and, ultimately, sentencing in the event of a conviction.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.