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Leicester taxi driver convicted in 'dooring' death of cyclist Sam Boulton

£300 fine plus costs for driver of cab whose passenger opened door into cyclist's path...

A Leicester taxi driver has been fined £300 plus costs following his conviction today of the offence of 'car-dooring' in relation to the death on 27 July last year of schoolteacher Sam Boulton, who was killed when a passenger in the cab opened its door into his path, causing him to fall into the path of a van.

In March, taxi passenger Mandy Chapple was fined £80 after admitting the offence of opening a car door, or causing or permitting it to be opened, so as to cause injury in connection with the death of Mr Boulton, who had turned 26 years of age that day.

The same month saw the van driver, Nigel Ingram, admitted failure to stop and driving while over the legal limit for alcohol. He was handed a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and conditional on his attending a 12-week course for treatment for his alcohol addiction. He was also banned from driving for 28 months.

> Suspended sentence for van driver who killed cyclist Sam Boulton after taxi passenger opened door

Taxi driver Farook Yusuf Bhikhu was charged with the same offence as Ms Chapple, entering a plea of not guilty, but was convicted today at Loughborough Magistrates' Court.

He was fined £300 plus a £30 victim surcharge and £625 in court costs, which he will repay at £20 a week.

Under English law, car dooring is an offence that can be committed both by the person in charge of a vehicle and any passenger. The maximum penalty is a £1,000 fine.

The charity Cycling UK is calling for tougher penalties, including the introduction of a new offence of causing death or serious injury by car dooring.

The charity's senior road safety and legal campaigns officer, Duncan Dollimore, said: “How many Sam Boultons have to die before government takes notes, and stops treating avoidable deaths as accidents? A maximum £1000 fine is derisory, and trivialises these preventable tragedies. 

“Cycling UK wants to see Government introduce a new offence of causing serious injury or death by car dooring, with tougher penalties. It is not right or just that tragic cases, such as Sam's, see inadequate penalties handed down. 

“Tougher penalties, including the option of custodial sentencing, should be an option for the court in life-changing or fatal cases, which in turn would hopefully encourage the police and CPS to prosecute.”

The victim's father, Jeff Boulton, also urged for changes to the law.

He said: "It's heart breaking that an offence which has ended a life and caused untold trauma for my family be treated so lightly under current legislation. 

"Car-dooring must be taken more seriously, and the only way to do that is to change the law. Only then will we see people taking the time to think before they act.

"Until we have an appropriate offence in law, I call on the government to start investigating how they can better educate and train drivers about the dangers of car-dooring and the techniques which will prevent it from happening."

According to Cycling UK, official figures show that there were 561 reported collisions in Great Britain in 2015 where "vehicle door opened or closed negligently" was cited by police as a contributory factor.

Along with other campaigners, it is calling for the technique known as the 'Dutch Reach' to be introduced in the UK.

The technique, taught to learner drivers in the Netherlands, encourages motorists and passengers to open the door with the hand furthest away from it, a movement which naturally rotates the upper body, meaning they can see cyclists and other vehicles approaching from behind.

However, in February, transport minister Andrew Jones told the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group that there were no plans to make the technique compulsory in the UK.

> Transport minister: No plans to introduce ‘Dutch Reach’ anti-dooring technique to UK

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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