Five years in jail for motorist who killed cyclist while looking at pictures on mobile phone

Judge tells Andrzej Wojcicki that victim Owain Richard James “didn’t stand a chance”

A minibus driver has been sent to prison for five years and handed a 10-year ban from driving for killing a cyclist while looking at pictures on his mobile phone.

Andrzej Wojcicki, aged 45, had been looking at pictures of vintage sports cars on his phone as he drove at 50 miles an hour on the A472 near Newbridge, Gwent, when he struck cyclist Owain James on Sunday 21 July 2013.

Mr James died later in hospital as a result of the severe injuries he sustained in the crash.

BBC News South East Wales reports that a jury at Cardiff Crown Court took seven hours to convict Wojcicki, who had been driving home from a Jehovah’s Witness conference with his wife and children, of causing death by dangerous driving.

Sentencing Wojcicki, who had denied that he had been taking pictures and viewing them at the wheel, Judge David Wyn Morgan told him that "Mr James didn't stand a chance."

Lord Harley, defending Wojcicki, claimed there was no evidence of the phone being used at or prior to the time of the collision, which resulted in the victim being thrown into the air and hitting the bonnet and windscreen of the minibus.

He also claimed that Wojcicki, was a "diligent driver" and that the cyclist had swerved into the path of the vehicle, saying, "For him to come into the path of my client took less than a second. It was all over in a second."

Witnesses however described how the minibus was being driven erratically as though the driver seemed distracted, and one said that after the collision, Wojcicki took pictures of the fatally injured rider.

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

"Because Wojcicki was driving dangerously, he caused the death of Mr James. It is as simple as that.

"You do not take pictures while you are driving along and then look at them."

Judge David Wyn Morgan told Wojcicki: "You were paying little if any attention to the road in front of you.

"The visibility was excellent and the traffic was minimal - if you had been looking you couldn't have failed to be aware of the cyclist.

"The distraction which caused this was your use of the mobile telephone for taking pictures of cars.

"The use of a mobile telephone to examine images while driving is every bit as dangerous as texting.

"You were driving a three-tonne minibus - Mr James didn't stand a chance," he added.

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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