A driver accused of hitting and killing a cyclist near Warrington told police and his insurance company that he thought he had hit a wheelie bin reports The Warrington Guardian. The victim, 47-year-old father-of-three Terry Brown, died as result of serious head injuries with his bike found spilt in two in a nearby hedge.
Michael Rollason has admitted that he was driving the Vauxhall Astra on February 18, 2014 when it hit Brown. He has pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving, but denies causing death by dangerous driving.
Brown was cycling along the A57 Warrington Road, Bold Heath – a single carriageway, two-lane road with a 50mph speed limit – when the incident happened at around 6.35am. Liverpool Crown Court heard that he had been wearing a helmet and a high-vis jacket and that his bike had been fitted with a red flashing light.
Prosecuting, Simon Christy said:
“The visibility was good. Mr Brown rode his bicycle in a perfectly proper manner. It was dark but there were street lights and the road is straight and wide. Mr Brown was there to be seen. He had taken the proper precautions to make himself visible.”
Following the collision, Rollason failed to stay at the scene, but later contacted his insurance company about whether he should claim for the windscreen and other damage. His car was found by police parked near to – but not at – his home address that evening. It was said to have been positioned in such a way as to ‘obscure’ any view of the damage it had sustained.
After being arrested and cautioned, Rollason told police that he had hit a wheelie bin, claiming he thought he had seen something black rolling along the footpath.
Christy continued: “He has pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving without due care and attention. The prosecution say that’s not remotely good enough. His driving on this occasion fell far below what is expected of a competent and careful driver.”
Brown would often cycle from his home in Warrington to his job as a packing manager at Princes Food in Liverpool. His sister, Nicola Keatley, told The Bolton News that he would also sometimes surprise the family by cycling to visit them in Prestwich. “He would think nothing of cycling all that way. It was normal to him. It was an example of how sporty he was.”
Brown’s brother, David, who travelled to the UK from his home in Australia when he heard of the crash, said that he didn’t want Terry’s death to have been in vain.
“We want people to be aware of cyclists and the dangers they face on the road. They have just as much right to be on the road as anyone else. The idea that drivers have more rights is wrong. If another incident like Terry’s death can be prevented, then it won’t have been in vain.”
Brown’s family is appealing for motorists to respect cyclists’ space on the road and have also started fundraising for head injuries charity Headway.