The family of Michael Mason, who died earlier this year after being struck by a car while riding his bike on London’s Regent Street, is taking legal advice on bringing a private prosecution against the driver of the vehicle. No charges have been brought against the motorist due to what police say is a lack of evidence, a decision the family may also seek to challenge.
A coroner’s inquest last week concluded that Mr Mason, whose life support machine was switched off in March, three weeks after the crash which happened at around 6.25pm on the evening of 28 February, was an “accident,” reports the London Evening Standard’s Ross Lydall.
Following the inquest, Mr Mason’s daughter, Anna Tatton-Brown, said: “I’m annoyed that the police have not taken any further action.
“I don’t think it sends a very good message to other drivers, or to cyclists that their lives are considered not worth protecting.
“You do wonder what more evidence they need to take action against a driver for killing someone.”
Mr Mason, a stand-in teacher who campaigned for safer roads for cyclists, was heading home to Kentish Town when he was struck by a Nissan Juke 4x4 being driven by Gale Purcell, who claimed at the inquest at Westminster Coroner’s Court that she had no seen him.
She said: “It was like something had fallen from the sky. I was totally unaware of a cyclist. I just heard an impact.”
Questioned by Martin Porter QC, Mrs Purcell admitted: “I should have seen him if he was [immediately ahead], but I didn’t see him.”
Police collision investigator PC Brian Gamble told the inquest “there was a view available” to the motorist of the cyclist through her vehicle’s windscreen, adding, “I’m unable to explain why Mrs Purcell was unable to react to his presence.”
Another officer, Detective Constable Andrew Meikle, said that while Mr Mason was seen cycling into the right-hand lane on CCTV footage, the moments immediately before the impact were not recorded.
He said: “The problem was that we couldn’t say what had happened in that vital 25 metres,” and that a detective inspector had decided last month not to seek to prosecute Mrs Purcell due to insufficient evidence.
According to the Evening Standard, Mrs Purcell has still not expressed remorse over Mr Mason’s death to his family, who are taking legal advice over a potential challenge to the decision not to refer the case for prosecution, as well as the chances of a private prosecution succeeding.
“I have tried to do what my dad would have wanted, said Ms Tatton-Brown. “He was quite livid about bad driving on London’s roads and cyclists not being protected and being very vulnerable. Were he alive now, he would be fighting this tooth and nail.”
Referring to Mrs Purcell, she said: “At some level, I would like her to be held responsible for killing my dad.
“I’m quite shocked by her admission that she should have seen him if he was in front of her. It’s the first time we have heard her explanation but it raises more questions than it answers.”
The crash left Mr Mason with broken ribs, a fractured skull and severe brain injuries and his life support machine was switched off four days after his 70th birthday after doctors said there was no prospect of his making a recovery.
After his death in March, Ms Tatton-Brown released a picture of her father in hospital to warn motorists of how vulnerable cyclists are.
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.