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Jury urges action over junction after finding driver guilty of causing cyclist's death

Junction where William Logan died is "exceptionally dangerous" says jury in rare note to judge...

A jury in Southampton has taken the unusual step of calling for action over an "exceptionally dangerous" junction after finding a driver guilty of causing the death of a cyclist by careless driving.

The Southern Daily Echo's John Hoskins reports that Sophie Whitmarsh was found guilty of causing death by careless driving when she hit William Logan on April 28, 2014.

The 70-year-old cyclist was riding down Kitnocks Hill on the A334 at about 25mph when Whitmarsh pulled out of Reading Room Lane intending to go across the road into Outlands Lane and hit him, Southampton Crown Court heard.

Whitmarsh, 25 said she did not see Mr Logan, who was wearing a high-vis jacket and a helmet before she hit him.

William Logan's view of the junction as he approached down the A334

She was three-quarters of the way across the junction when the collision occured. She told the jury that she had not seen Mr Logan until "I heard a scream and looked out my right window.

Sophie Whitmarsh's view of the junction from Reading Room Lane

“I wish I had seen him because then we wouldn’t be here now.

“I looked absolutely everywhere I could. I couldn’t have done more. I’m very careful, very competent.”

Mr Logan had “merged entirely with the background,” she said.

The jury took three hours and twenty minutes to find Whitmarsh guilty and in an unusual step for a trial jury wrote to the judge calling the junction "exceptionally dangerous" and demanding Hampshire County Council "ignore this fact no longer".

The note said: "We as a jury consider the road A334 at the junction of Reading Room Lane and Outlands Lane to be exceptionally dangerous.

"This is shown by the number of accidents at this junction in the past five years. People's lives are being put at risk on a daily basis.

"There is a need for the relevant authorities to ignore this fact no longer."

Judge Peter Ralls QC said he utterly endorsed the jury's comments.

He said he recognised there were a lot of mitigating factors and he was satisfied the case did not warrant a prison sentence but Whitmarsh would be disqualified and have to pay costs, whole or in part.

Judge Ralls described the accident as "a momentary lapse" on Whitmarsh's part, the consequences of which were appalling, and she would have to live with it.

"I would not be surprised if it kept her awake at night."

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 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. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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