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Motorist admits careless but denies dangerous driving

A jury attempting to decide whether a motorist who dragged a cyclist under her wheels was guilty of dangerous driving has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict.

The jury at Exeter Crown Court was asked to deliberate on the case of a carer, Miriam Thomas, who was posting her mother’s Christmas cards last December when she hit cyclist Julian Harper on a narrow country lane.

The prosecution will decide next week whether to request a retrial.

Mr Harper was knocked off his bike and fell under the car, where his hand was crushed by the wheel.

Ms Thomas drove away, according to the prosecution, but then returned and said: "You were in my way, don't you have mirrors?".

She then left the scene once more, but returned on her way home and stopped to ask police officers: "Has he been breathalysed yet?”

She has admitted a lesser charge of careless driving but denies that her actions were dangerous.

Mr Tom Bradnock, prosecuting, said, according to the Exeter Express and Echo: "Mr Harper became aware of a Renault. It is a narrow country lane with high Devon hedges and blind corners which had nowhere the driver could have passed him.

"She beeped her horn repeatedly. We say that is evidence of aggression on Thomas's part. There was no other reason for her to beep her horn.

"Mr Harper looked behind him and saw her car very, very close, perhaps just one or two metres. We say she was driving much too close for safety.

"As they approached a left hand bend he looked down and saw the front bumper immediately by his right leg. The car did not stop or back off. It drove on and collided with the back of the bicycle, causing the rider to fall over.

"He initially fell to the left but was spun back round clockwise and as a result his front wheel went fully under the front wheel of the car. Mr Harper put his hands out to break his fall and the car ran over his fingers.

"Luckily and extraordinarily, it only caused minor injuries, scratches, grazes and bruises. The bike was rather mangled. Mr Harper was rolled along the road and eventually came to a stop.

"He looked up to see Thomas's car disappearing round the bend without braking or stopping. While he was checking himself and his bike the car returned and she got out.

"Mr Harper recalls she said something like 'what were you doing swerving all over the road? You were in my way. Don't you have mirrors?’."

Thomas countered that she was a careful driver with a clean licence and had not been in a rush at the time. She said her hooting was only to let the cyclist know she was there, and her actions were not deliberate.

She said:"The cyclist proceeded down the lane. It was obvious he was taking the racing line and trying to straighten out the corners.

"Somehow I got too close to him and the side of my car hit the back of his bicycle. I did not think I was that close. I was shocked and surprised. I lost sight of him and the bicycle because he fell over.

"I was going very slowly. I must have been closer to him than I thought I was.

"I was aware he was shouting but it did not seem to me he was screaming or in a lot of pain. I don't know why I carried on but as soon as I realised what I had done I turned around and came back."

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.