Text exchange with girlfriend preceded fatal collision

A driver who admitted exchanging texts with his girlfriend before his van hit and killed an 18-year-old cyclist has been cleared of causing death by dangerous driving, and of causing death by careless driving.

Philip Sinden was driving the Vauxhall Vivaro that hit and killed 18-year-old triathlete Daniel Squire on the A258 at Ringwould in Kent at around 8:40am on September 7 2013.

After the verdict, the family of Daniel Squire shouted at the jury: “Were you not listening?”, “What a waste of time” and “I can’t believe that”, reports Kent Online's Paul Hooper.

During the trial the court heard that Sinden had sent 19 texts and received 22 from his girlfriend between 6.07am and 8.32am. He and his girlfriend continued texting until she sent a message at 8.39.49. He was alleged to have composed a message at around 8.40am which was never sent.

Prosecutor Dale Sullivan said: “The defendant had been using his mobile phone either just before or at the time of the impact and he failed to react to the presence of Daniel who was in front of his vehicle until the very last moment.”

But Sinden claimed that he had not been distracted by using his phone.

“I was texting just using my left hand. When I pulled out onto the road I was trying to keep my attention on the road, so I typed without looking at the phone.”

He claimed Daniel Squire had unexpectedly joined the carriageway from the pavement.

“I realised it was a cyclist on the pavement on my left hand side. He started to come off the pavement and I started to react. I started to brake and steer around the cyclist.

“It was all very quick but it seemed to me he had adjacened [sic] out slightly from the lane he should have been on.”

Sinden told the jury that Daniel had turned around and looked behind him “just before it [the van] struck the bike”.

“He just came out more than I expected. I spiked my brakes," he said.

Members of Daniel Squire's family attended every day of the trial at Canterbury Crown Court.

Judge Heather Norton expressed her “profound sympathy” for Daniel's family.

She told them: “I appreciate that is not the verdict you were expecting and was not the verdict you were hoping for.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.