Driver looking at photos on phone hits cyclist – then snaps fatally injured victim, court told

Andrzej Wojcicki claims cyclist Owain James veered across road – but witness says it was minibus that did so

A court has been told that a minibus driver who struck a cyclist, fatally injuring him, had been looking at pictures of vintage cars on his mobile phone prior to the collision – and that he then used the device to photograph the victim as he lay on the ground.

Andrzej Wojcicki, aged 44 and from Blackwood, has pleaded not guilty at Cardiff Crown Court to causing the death by dangerous driving of cyclist Owain Richard James from Oakdale on the A472 at Newbridge on Sunday 21 July 2013. Mr James, aged 30, died in hospital of severe injuries sustained in the crash.

Wojcicki told police following the incident that the cyclist had veered out in front of the left-hand drive minibus he was driving, reports BBC News South East Wales, but that version of events was disputed by eyewitnesses.

Prosecutor Nicholas Jones insisted: "The driver never saw the cyclist because he was distracted until after he collided with him.

"Because Mr Wojcicki was driving dangerously, he caused the death of Owain Richard James.

"It is as simple as that. You do not take pictures while you are driving along and then look at them.

"The minibus seemed to be drifting about slightly as if he was distracted. He never braked and he did not stop for some considerable distance after the collision."

Witness Gareth Beecham, who was behind the minibus in his Ford Mondeo with his three sons aged 12, 8 and 7, told of how the way the vehicle was moving made him wonder if the driver were distracted, reports the South Wales Argus.

He told the court: "He drifted towards the rumble strip on the bypass and went straight into the cyclist. The cyclist went up over the roof of the van along with the cycle."

Mr Beecham described how after phoning the emergency services and checking his children were okay, he spoke to Wojcicki.

"I asked him 'how did you hit him?' He said 'I didn't see him'. I didn't understand how he didn't see him because I'd seen him in plenty of time before he got hit."

Mr Jones asked him, “What did the driver do then?" and was told, "He started taking photos on his mobile phone, he took a photo of the cyclist as he lay on the floor."

Judge David Wynn Morgan asked the witness: "Did you see, from where you were, the cyclist drifting into the path of the minibus?" "No", he replied.

Another witness who was in a vehicle travelling behind the minibus at the time of the fatal collision recalled how the defendant had said that he had failed to see the victim before the impact.

Registered nurse James Davies said that the colleague with whom he was travelling called the emergency services while he went to see to the cyclist.

As he sought to help Mr James, he became aware after a few minutes that Wojcicki was there.

"I asked him if he was the driver of the minibus. He nodded. I asked him 'what happened' and he said 'I don't know'. I asked him 'didn't you see the cyclist?' and he said 'no'.

"I felt as though he looked as though he was in shock so I asked him to go and sit out of the way and wait until the emergency services arrived," he added.

The case continues.

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Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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