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Old Bailey told that driver accused of killing Mick Mason admitted she “didn’t see him” as landmark trial opens

Trial opens in crowdsourced private prosecution brought by Cyclists’ Defence Fund

Motorist Gail Purcell, on trial for causing the death through careless driving of cyclist Michael Mason, told police that she “didn’t see” the cyclist when she struck him on London’s Regent Street in February 2014, causing him fatal injuries.

In what is believed to be a legal first, the Cyclists’ Defence Fund has crowdsourced more than £75,000 to bring a private prosecution of the driver after the Metropolitan Police decided not to refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Gail Purcell, 59, was driving home from her hair salon in Conduit Street, Soho, when she struck Mr Mason, known as Mick, just north of Oxford Circus, reports the London Evening Standard.

Mr Mason, known as Mick and who had been returning home from a visit to the Apple Store on Regent Street, died in hospital 19 days later, shortly after his 70th birthday. He had never regained consciousness.

The Old Bailey heard that following the fatal crash, Purcell, of St Albans, told police: I’m the driver. It was me. Is he okay? I just didn’t see him.”

She also told officers: “I didn’t see anybody from my left. It’s like they came from the sky.”

Simon Spence QC, prosecuting, told the court that one witness had seen Mr Mason "flying through the air" after he was hit from behind by the car Purcell was driving.

Another eyewitness said she believed the motorist was "going really fast," adding "the cyclist flew through the air."

Mr Spence told the court: “For whatever reason, the defendant simply did not see a cyclist in the carriageway ahead of her in the traffic in circumstances where she should have done, and she drove into the back of him, knocking him from his cycle and causing fatal head injuries.

“He was knocked from his cycle by the car driven by the defendant, who was driving in the same direction as Mr Mason.

"He certainly impacted with the bonnet of the car, and fell into the road."

Purcell denies the charge. The trial is scheduled to last for six days.

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Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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