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Five guilty of manslaughter over London cyclist's death

Cyclist killed yards from home unwittingly caught up in car chase between feuding drivers

Five men have been convicted at the Old Bailey in London of manslaughter and causing the death by dangerous driving of a cyclist who unwittingly got caught up in a feud between them that resulted in a high-speed car chase through a London suburb.

Graham Thwaites, aged 51, who worked for a bank in the City of London, had been cycling home from Petts Wood train station when he was hit by a Mitsubishi Shogun driven by 35-year-old Andrew Carlisle on Leesons Hill, Orpington in September 2008.

Carlisle’s vehicle was being pursued at speeds of up to 60mph in the 30mph residential area by a Vauxhall Vectra containing containing William Dennard, 24, David Cook, 24, George Webb 27, and Shane Webb, 24.

During the trial, which opened last month, Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, had told the court that the Shogun was “completely out of control” at the time of the fatal collision, and that it had twice been rammed by the chasing car.

He added that there was “great deal of animosity" between Carlisle and the four occupants of the Astra, apparently arising from a dispute over the cost of a rottweiler puppy.

The fatal crash happened just yards from the home where Mr Thwaites lived with his wife and two children.

Local newspaper the News Shopper quoted Detective Inspector Mark Cam, of the Metropolitan Police's road death investigation unit, as saying: "Mr Thwaites lost his life because Carlisle, Dennard, Cook and the Webbs were intent on airing their personal grievances out on a public road.

"They all drove dangerously, recklessly, above the speed limit and without any consideration for members of the public.

"This wasn't simply a case of bad driving, it was manslaughter and I am pleased with today's verdict. I hope it goes some small way to providing comfort to Mr Thwaites' family who have acted with great dignity throughout this investigation."
MrThwaite's widow, Hazel, added: "This senseless act of driving cost Graham his life,he is missed by all of his family and friends."

The men have been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on July 15.

 

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.