The Cyclists’ Defence Fund is to ask Leicestershire Police to review a case in which a 12-year-old boy was killed as he rode a bike to a water park with friends during the school holidays in 2014 after a coroner criticised a motorist for deciding to overtake a tractor moments before striking and killing the youngster.
Jake Mitchell died when he was struck by a Nissan Qashqai driven by Maurice King from Market Bosworth at around noon on 29 July 2014, with the coroner’s inquest hearing that the motorist had been attempting to overtake three vehicles and the tractor when the youngster veered into his path.
The driver said in a police interview that he had not seen Jake and his two friends before the collision, but other drivers giving evidence at the inquest confirmed that they had, reports the Leicester Mercury.
While Robert Chapman, Assistant Coroner for Rutland and North Leicestershire, attributed the cause of Jake’s death to a road traffic collision, he was highly critical of the motorist.
"It seems to me that the decision he made to overtake was the wrong decision,” he said. “I cannot accept for a minute it was appropriate to pull out of this line of traffic and overtake them.
“What I cannot accept, irrespective of the cyclists, and he says he didn't see them, is that it would be the action of a prudent motorist to pull out and attempt to overtake the line of traffic and tractor when only 400m ahead there is a bend that he cannot see round.”
Following legal advice, the motorist did not answer questions at the hearing because of the prospect of potential future proceedings.
The assistant coroner added: "Whatever conclusion I come to and whatever my findings are from the last two days, it doesn't prevent the police or CPS taking a further view on Mr King's responsibility. It also doesn't prevent the family taking forward civil proceedings."
The inquest was told that Jake had been riding with two friends aged 14, and was using one of their bikes which was too big for him, and had to stand on the pedals to try and keep up with them. He is thought to have veered across the road since he was scared at being so close to the tractor.
The charity Cycling UK has been supporting Jake’s family, and its Senior Road Safety and Legal Campaigner, Duncan Dollimore, commented: "It shouldn't have taken 28 months before anyone listened to the evidence of the three other drivers queuing behind the tractor, who Mr King overtook.
"They had all decided it was too dangerous to overtake, and were aware of the young cyclists ahead of the tractor.
He added: "Cycling UK's CDF will be writing to Leicestershire Police asking them to review the case in light of the evidence given to the coroner and his observations concerning Mr King's actions."
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.