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Wheelie cyclist who caused tandem crash ordered to pay compensation

Stoker left with memory loss after crash

A teenage cyclist has been ordered to pay compensation for causing a crash in which a tandem stoker sustained serious injuries.

The Edinburgh Evening News reports that Luke Horne, 16, was pulling a wheelie and riding through a red light at a pedestrian crossing in Gullane, East Lothian when the crash took place on June 14, 2014.

After riding through the crossing, Horne unexpectedly turned right, causing the tandem, piloted by Chris Laughton, 50 to hit his rear wheel.

Laughton and his stoker, 54-year-old Dr Kay Boulton, both fell to the road.

Dr Boulton's head hit the pavement. She suffered a fractured skull and hip and loss of hearing, and subsequently spent two days in a high dependency unit and a total of two weeks in hospital. The court heard that she now suffers a lack of short term memory which may never be regained.

Mr Laughton suffered only minor injuries.

Passers-by rushed to the couple's aid and Horne also stopped and rendered assistance.

Horne pleaded guilty to riding a bicycle dangerously at an earlier hearing.

Sheriff Thomas Welsh QC told Horne his cycling that day had “extremely serious consequences” for Dr Boulton, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute.

Sheriff Welsh said: “Your cycling that day fell far below the standard of that of a competent cyclist.

“The consequences of your dangerous cycling were extremely serious for Kay Boulton.

“However, you have accepted your responsibility and have pled guilty at an early stage and I have to take into account you are only 16.

“I also take into account this type of dangerous conduct is out of character for you.”

Sheriff Welsh ordered Horne, from Gullane, to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and told him he must pay £500 in compensation.

John 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 founder Tony Farrelly, 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. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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25 comments

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A V Lowe | 8 years ago
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Most posters seem to have no clue about the difference between this criminal case and a parallel civil case which will doubtless settle for a substantially larger sum, hopefully through the third party cover of a household insurance policy.

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Jimmy Ray Will | 9 years ago
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Great demonstration why you shouldn't wheelie or run red lights... you end up being automatically culpable when in reality the situation may not have been as clear cut.

As mentioned, how did the tandem strike the rear wheel of the kids bike, unless they too had run hte red light... or have I got my angles wrong?

I was having related thoughts to this the other day... whilst tootling along on a quite lane no handed the other day, a car did a super close pass from behind.

Now I'm not justifying my actions here, I was clearly in less control than I could have been, but I thought it odd that someone, who can clearly see that I may not be in full control of my bike, would consciously put themselves into a situation where an 'accident' may happen.

Had it done so, who'd be at fault? Me for riding no handed, but really, when it really comes down to it, any accident could have been easily avoided had the car driver not decided to make a point. This is theoretical, no accident happened.

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Matt eaton replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 9 years ago
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Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

As mentioned, how did the tandem strike the rear wheel of the kids bike, unless they too had run hte red light... or have I got my angles wrong?

I had assumed that the tandem was going in the opposite direction and had a green light and that the kid cut across their path, disobeying the red light in the process. I don't think it's been properly explained though so I could be wrong.

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harrybav | 9 years ago
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Nah, pocket your fury, it's Gullane, quiet coastal village. Children play on the road and do wheelies there and the ped crossing with no-one at it, not a car for miles, is not an issue, not in Gullane. How the tandem was steered so close to a child doing a wheelie through a red light, I'm not sure. It's just a very sorry outcome from a not particularly serious situation and 80 hours and £500 is well-judged.

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Housecathst | 9 years ago
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This is just in relation the criminal proceedings. I would think there will also be a civil case too. As long as the kids parents have home contents insurance they will be covered for there personal liability (for just this type of incident) for this up to about £2 million in the case of most policies

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Matt eaton | 9 years ago
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Surely a civil case for damages can still be brought? I'd expect a much higher figure if so.

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vonhelmet | 9 years ago
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The wheelie is of less concern than riding through the red light. At 16 he is criminally responsible. If a 17 year old did the same thing in a car (wheelie notwithstanding, you would hope) then we'd want the book thrown at them. Fair's fair.

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I love my bike replied to vonhelmet | 9 years ago
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vonhelmet wrote:

The wheelie is of less concern than riding through the red light. At 16 he is criminally responsible. If a 17 year old did the same thing in a car (wheelie notwithstanding, you would hope) then we'd want the book thrown at them. Fair's fair.

Of course we want something like the book thrown at him, but remember car drivers etc are licenced & must pass a test, so shouldn't they be held to a higher standard?

If drivers seemingly can get away with anything by closing their eyes (so they cannot see anything), rather than comparing their actual standard of driving to that required to obtain a driving licence; how can he have got off lightly?

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Legin replied to vonhelmet | 9 years ago
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vonhelmet wrote:

The wheelie is of less concern than riding through the red light. At 16 he is criminally responsible. If a 17 year old did the same thing in a car (wheelie notwithstanding, you would hope) then we'd want the book thrown at them. Fair's fair.

Yes you're totally correct; so what?

I'm nearly as tired of kids not been allowed to screw up as I am of adult drivers who are. Unfortunately this kids' screw up has had dire consequences; what do you want; a jail term; a fine that he won't be able to pay; or perhaps we give him a bang on the head to see if we can cause him similar brain injury, after all many on here clearly want an eye for an eye?

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vonhelmet replied to Legin | 9 years ago
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Legin wrote:
vonhelmet wrote:

The wheelie is of less concern than riding through the red light. At 16 he is criminally responsible. If a 17 year old did the same thing in a car (wheelie notwithstanding, you would hope) then we'd want the book thrown at them. Fair's fair.

Yes you're totally correct; so what?

I'm nearly as tired of kids not been allowed to screw up as I am of adult drivers who are. Unfortunately this kids' screw up has had dire consequences; what do you want; a jail term; a fine that he won't be able to pay; or perhaps we give him a bang on the head to see if we can cause him similar brain injury, after all many on here clearly want an eye for an eye?

I'm not advocating an eye for an eye, so don't lay that at my feet. I'm just saying that at 16 he should know better than to run a red light, and this is precisely why. This is not a kid not being allowed to screw up, this is a kid breaking the law and causing serious injury to another as a result.

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Legin replied to vonhelmet | 9 years ago
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vonhelmet wrote:
Legin wrote:
vonhelmet wrote:

The wheelie is of less concern than riding through the red light. At 16 he is criminally responsible. If a 17 year old did the same thing in a car (wheelie notwithstanding, you would hope) then we'd want the book thrown at them. Fair's fair.

Yes you're totally correct; so what?

I'm nearly as tired of kids not been allowed to screw up as I am of adult drivers who are. Unfortunately this kids' screw up has had dire consequences; what do you want; a jail term; a fine that he won't be able to pay; or perhaps we give him a bang on the head to see if we can cause him similar brain injury, after all many on here clearly want an eye for an eye?

I'm not advocating an eye for an eye, so don't lay that at my feet. I'm just saying that at 16 he should know better than to run a red light, and this is precisely why. This is not a kid not being allowed to screw up, this is a kid breaking the law and causing serious injury to another as a result.

This is a kid; the law is an ass when it comes to age and culpability.

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to Legin | 9 years ago
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Legin wrote:

This is a kid; the law is an ass when it comes to age and culpability.

I agree, in that I'm old enough to find it impossible to judge a 16-year-old that harshly. They're just a kid.

I do wonder 'what if had been a 17-year-old in a car?', but I get round that with the thought that they really should raise the driving age and save kids that young from the consequences of their own cluelessness.

The general trend seems to be for age thresholds for things to be raised, as we all live longer. If pension ages can keep going up, along with school leaving age, why not minimum age for driving?

Am shocked, however, to find that the criminal injuries compensation rules put such stress on what thoughts were in the guilty party's head at the time. How does that have anything to do with compensation to victims?

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Ush replied to vonhelmet | 9 years ago
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vonhelmet wrote:

The wheelie is of less concern than riding through the red light. At 16 he is criminally responsible. If a 17 year old did the same thing in a car (wheelie notwithstanding, you would hope) then we'd want the book thrown at them. Fair's fair.

No "we" don't. As pointed out in oozaveerd's comment the kid stopped, took responsibility and as far as we know was just a bit of an eejit which caused a horrible, unusual accident.

The likely chance of causing a serious accident is much higher while in control of a car than a bicycle. Completely incomparable cases.

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oozaveared | 9 years ago
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I do feel sorry for the victim. And it's right that there are consequences but the lad didn't ride off. he stopped and helped and he took the consequences.

I'd expect that there for the grace of god have gone most of us as teenage cyclists. I certainly used to pull wheelies as did all my mates.

Let's not all make out the lad had any kind of malice. he did a dumb teenage thing and unfortunately someone got hurt. Apart from that he acted like I'd like my son to. Stopped and helped as well as he could and took the consequences.

Think back to when you were 16. Most of us would have been equally as stupid. Possibly some of of might have acted so so well afterwards.

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DrJDog | 9 years ago
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I feel quite a lot of sympathy for the kid. He's 16 and can wheelie, if I was that age, and could wheelie, I'd be doing it everywhere. Who hasn't done something stupid at that age? You never know, he may be crushed by the consequences of his actions...

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Airzound replied to DrJDog | 9 years ago
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DrJDog wrote:

I feel quite a lot of sympathy for the kid. He's 16 and can wheelie, if I was that age, and could wheelie, I'd be doing it everywhere. Who hasn't done something stupid at that age? You never know, he may be crushed by the consequences of his actions...

Errr ………no, simply, no. What, wheelie-ing through a red light? I don't think so. No sympathy what so ever.

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Dnnnnnn | 9 years ago
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The victim will never stop paying the price - Horne should likewise be paying every month for the rest of *her* life.

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vonhelmet | 9 years ago
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£500? Let's hope the victim has lost her memory of the value of money as well.

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Accessibility f... replied to vonhelmet | 9 years ago
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vonhelmet wrote:

£500? Let's hope the victim has lost her memory of the value of money as well.

£500 is a hell of a lot of money to a 16-year-old boy.

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Airzound replied to Accessibility for all | 9 years ago
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Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:
vonhelmet wrote:

£500? Let's hope the victim has lost her memory of the value of money as well.

£500 is a hell of a lot of money to a 16-year-old boy.

I don't think so. Most kids have an arsenal of electrical gadgets totalling thousands. Maybe he should have been forced to sell his Playstation, Smartphone and various other phones, laptop, i-pad. Then pay this woman £2.5k each year for life, the length of her life, the amount would increase if his earnings increased above a certain threshold once 18 years old.

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vonhelmet replied to Accessibility for all | 9 years ago
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Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:
vonhelmet wrote:

£500? Let's hope the victim has lost her memory of the value of money as well.

£500 is a hell of a lot of money to a 16-year-old boy.

You measure compensation by reference to the victim's loss that is being compensated, not the cost to the perpetrator of making that compensation.

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hylozoist replied to vonhelmet | 9 years ago
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vonhelmet wrote:
Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:
vonhelmet wrote:

£500? Let's hope the victim has lost her memory of the value of money as well.

£500 is a hell of a lot of money to a 16-year-old boy.

You measure compensation by reference to the victim's loss that is being compensated, not the cost to the perpetrator of making that compensation.

It's unfortunate that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme does not kick in for victims of this sort of crime (it is for crimes of violence only, and specifically excludes cases where a vehicle was used, unless there was an intent to cause injury using the vehicle). If you are injured because someone set out to hurt you, the state pays up, whereas if you are injured because someone is criminally negligent with a car/bike, you get nothing. Under that scheme, the current tariff for a significant and long-lasting memory impairment would be £22,000, which is a lot more than the kid has to stump up but not really all that much. Hopefully someone involved has some insurance that can be used (which I guess is the concept behind all those calls for compulsory bike insurance etc. but I'm not going there).

I too have some sympathy with the perpetrator. While he did something wrong, and needs to be appropriately punished, teenagers do screw up sometimes and the consequences of their bad decisions should not necessarily mean locking them up and throwing away the key. I'd hope in cases like these a vitim impact statement would be given decent weight (give the victim the power to forgive and show some lenience or otherwise).

Besides, £500 is infinitely more than the killers of Michael Mason and Daniel Squire (to name just two) have had to stump up.

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Accessibility f... replied to vonhelmet | 9 years ago
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vonhelmet wrote:
Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:
vonhelmet wrote:

£500? Let's hope the victim has lost her memory of the value of money as well.

£500 is a hell of a lot of money to a 16-year-old boy.

You measure compensation by reference to the victim's loss that is being compensated, not the cost to the perpetrator of making that compensation.

Ok, let's fine him £100,000. Oh wait, he'll never be able to pay it. Enjoy your non-existent compensation.

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vonhelmet replied to Accessibility for all | 9 years ago
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Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:

Ok, let's fine him £100,000. Oh wait, he'll never be able to pay it. Enjoy your non-existent compensation.

Firstly, a fine is not the same as compensation. Secondly, for the sake of £500 they may as well not bother. It's a pointlessly low amount.

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Leodis replied to Accessibility for all | 9 years ago
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Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:
vonhelmet wrote:

£500? Let's hope the victim has lost her memory of the value of money as well.

£500 is a hell of a lot of money to a 16-year-old boy.

Who cares, it will be the parents who pay it and the victim left short no one else.

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