A lorry driver from Sittingbourne has been handed a one-year jail sentence for causing the death by careless driving of 57-year-old cyclist Stephen Van Hinsbergh on the A299 in Kent last August.
According to KentOnline Canterbury Crown Court found Brian Walden, 40, not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, but he had already submitted a guilty plea to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
Judge Adele Williams also banned Mr Walden for three years. She told him: “You said you had pulled out to go around the cyclist, but the evidence before me from three eyewitnesses was that you did not pull out and your vehicle was weaving.”
Stephen Van Hinsbergh died at the scene on August 13 last year. The crash occurred in the Marshside area just before midday.
The court heard that Brian Walden had been making deliveries in the frozen food truck in Whitstable and Margate and was on his way back to London.
Mr Walden told investigators he first saw Mr Van Hinsbergh from about 200 yards away. He said he had checked his mirror, then moved out, believing he had left enough room to pass safely.
However, his wing mirror hit Mr Van Hinsbergh’s helmet, shattering the mirror.
Mr Walden stopped the lorry and ran back to check what had happened and found Mr Van Hinsbergh lying face down in the road.
Representing My Walden, Rachel Cooper said he had been a lorry driver for 15 years without incident, but now thought about the crash every day and no longer wanted to work as a lorry driver.
His wife and five children had suffered as the family had declared bankruptcy.
Mis Cooper added: “His actions have devastated Mr Van Hinsbergh’s family and also his own.”
PC Glen Braidwood said: “This was clearly an error of judgement on the part of Walden which had tragic consequences for Mr Van Hinsbergh and a devastating effect on his family.
“I hope the prison term will serve as a warning to all drivers using our Kent roads, particularly lorry drivers, that they must afford plenty of room to cyclists when they are overtaking.”
In a statement shortly after his death, Mr Van Hinsbergh’s family paid tribute to a “beloved father, son, brother and friend”. They said he was taken far too soon and would be missed beyond words.
Commenting on the case, CTC road safety campaigner Rhia Wston said: "From the evidence presented in court, the lorry driver saw the cyclist from 200 yards away yet failed to leave him enough space to overtake him safely.
"CTC's 'Road Justice' campaign believes that, in law, driving that causes foreseeable danger to vulnerable road users should always be classed as 'dangerous' (not 'careless') driving and that juries should be advised accordingly.
"It is therefore disappointing that the jury rejected the prosecution evidence that Mr Walden's driving was 'dangerous'.
"We are however pleased that the CPS pursued this prosecution even after he had pleaded guilty to the lesser 'careless' driving offence, and would urge them to do likewise in other similar situations. We are also dismayed that the judge imposed only a 3 year driving ban.
"Much longer bans are needed, and could have been imposed, in cases like this.""
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.