Fatal collision happened moments after near-miss with another cyclist

A driver who killed a cyclist taking part in a time trial last May has claimed in court that she did not see the victim, and told police in the aftermath of the crash that “it was just one of those things.”

Katie Hart, aged 19, of Little Paxton, Cambridgshire, also told police that she had not seen Major Gareth Rhys-Evans, a serving officer with the Intelligence Corps who was taking part in the Icknield Road Club 25-mile time trial on the A1 near St Neots, until she felt the impact then saw the victim in her rear-view mirror.

According to the BBC News website, Hart also claimed that the cyclist “came out of nowhere.”

In a statement read out to Peterborough Crown Court, another cyclist, Clare Lee, related how Hart’s Ford Ka had passed close to her while overtaking shortly before the collision that killed Major Rhys-Evans.

Miss Lee said: “It passed so close to me that it took my breath away, about a foot away." She added that her “heart sank” when she reached the crash scene and realised that the same car was involved.

Another motorist, James Newport, who had overtaken Hart’s vehicle, said that she had apparently taken no evasive action to avoid hitting the cyclist. “I did not feel that she needed to take any emergency action,” Mr Newport said, “but needed to do something, ie slow down or pull out to overtake the cycle."

He added: "I saw the car had continued in a straight line and did not swerve at all and did not appear to be braking."

Hart, however, who was on her way to her boyfriend’s house, had no recollection of having passed Miss Lee, nor of having been overtaken by Mr Newport’s vehicle.

She has pleaded guilty to the charge of careless driving, but denies the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Major Rhys-Thomas, aged 37, who had started his army career with the Royal Artillery before transferring to the Intelligence Corps, was pronounced dead at the scene. He leaves a wife and two children.

The case continues.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.