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Scottish jury finds case against driver who killed cyclist 'not proven'

Verdict returned after judge rules comments in police report blaming motorist inadmissible

A Scottish jury has returned a verdict of ‘not proven’ in the trial of a motorist accused of killing a cyclist while she was taking part in a charity cycling ride to commemorate her late husband.

The verdict is unique to Scots law and provides a third option where the judge or jury - depending upon which is deciding the case - are not satisfied that the prosecution has proved its case sufficiently for a conviction to be returned, but at the same time are not convinced enough of the defendant’s innocence to deliver a not guilty verdict.

Nick Underdown, a 28-year-old reporter, was charged with causing death by careless driving after he came round a bend on the Isle of Arran and ran into a group of cyclists including the victim, Elspeth Kelman, in August last year. Another member of the party, from a church in Glasgow who were taking part in an annual ride in memory of Mrs Kelman’s husband Ronald, who died of cancer in 1994, was injured in the crash.

A police report pinned the blame for the accident on Mr Underdown, but his defence counsel argued successfully that parts of the report incriminating him should not be shown to the jury.

According to BBC News, the police report said that Underdown "failed to maintain proper control of the vehicle," adding that “his actions have been careless". It also found that "there was no wrongdoing on the part of the cyclist". The jury, however, was unaware of those comments after the judge ruled those parts of the report them inadmissible.

Francis Downie, Mrs Kelman’s sister, expressed disappointment at the not proven verdict and was quoted as saying “the shocking and violent nature of her death caused us horror, anger and agitation."

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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