HGV driver who killed cyclist found not guilty of dangerous driving

Paul Byrne claimed he had not seen Stewart Gandy

A truck driver charged with causing death by dangerous driving for running over cyclist Stewart Gandy on November 12, 2013 has been found not guilty.

Paul Byrne had already entered a guilty plea on the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving after he hit Mr Gandy on the A530 near Nantwich, reports the Crewe Chronicle's Leanne Palin.

He told the court he had not realised he had hit Mr Gandy. He said he had stopped "by coincidence" just after the bridge where Mr Gandy's body was found to check a rattling noise he thought was a faulty headlight.

When initially questioned by police, Byrne resused to believe he had hit Mr Gandy, and only accepted what had happened when faced with DNA evidence from the front of his truck.

In a statement read to the court earlier in the two-week trial, Mr Gandy's family said he was a well respected member of the cycling community and was not "a risk taker on the roads".

Byrne was adamant he had not seen Mr Gandy as his truck crossed Baddington Lane bridge.

Nicholas Williams, prosecuting, said in his closing statement that Mr Byrne "should have had a clear view of up to 200 metres".

Williams said: “He should have seen him in plenty of time to stop. Instead he ploughed straight into him and killed him. Is this careless or just plain dangerous?”

Nicola Esterian Gatto, defending, told the court that environmental issues such as a low winter sun and hedgerow shadows "could have hindered [Byrne's] view" as he came round the bend.

In his summing up Judge Roger Dutton told the jury it was important to take time in considering all the facts in deciding whether or not Mr Byrne’s driving "fell far below the standard required of a competent driver" — the definition of dangerous driving.

The distinction between careless and dangerous driving is one of the targets of the CTC's Road Justice campaign. In its  overview of traffic law and enforcement, the CTC says "reform is needed so that the legal system effectively prevents bad driving, stops dismissing ‘dangerous’ driving as merely ‘careless’".

Careless driving is defined as driving that "falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver".

The CTC adds: "Bad driving that causes obviously foreseeable danger should be classed as a ‘dangerous’ driving offence. It should not, as often happens, be dismissed merely as ‘careless’ driving.

"Prosecution guidelines need to reflect this in the first instance, but changes to the law itself may also be needed."

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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