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Jury retires in London fixed-wheel cyclist manslaughter case after closing arguments

Charlie Alliston is accused of killing pedestrian Kim Briggs in London in February 2016

The Old Bailey jury trying a case in which a cyclist who was riding a fixed gear bike is charged with the manslaughter of a London pedestrian last year has retired to consider its verdict.

 Charlie Alliston, aged 20 and from Bermondsey, is also charged with causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving.

Kim Briggs, a 44-year-old HR consultant and mother-of-two, died in hospital from injuries sustained when she and Alliston were in a collision as she crossed Old Street during her lunch break in Februrary last year.

Much of the prosecution's case is based on the fact that Alliston was riding a fixed gear bike that was not equipped with a front brake, meaning it could not legally be used on the road under English law.

In his closing argument on behalf of the Crown, Duncan Penny QC said:  "You may think it is not rocket science why track bikes are not allowed in the roads.

"We all have to use public roads and therefore road safety is regulated. Track bikes are built for speed.

"It shouldn’t be on the road, it has no front brake, it is a speed machine.

"It is Shoreditch, it is lunchtime, there are cars, there are parked lorries, there are pedestrians who look to cross the road. You have got to be ready for things that happen."

Penny described Alliston as a risk-taker who was inspired by videos of alleycat races by the American film-maker, Lucas Brunelle.

"If you are prepared to take a risk in the style of Lucas Brunelle the reality is you are going to have to deal with stopping when hazards occur," he insisted.

"To do something dangerous as riding around on this bike is asking for trouble.

"He was going too quick bearing in mind the braking ability he had," he added.

Speaking in Alliston's defence,  Mark Wyeth QC said: “The counsel of perfection that the prosecution put forward is so complete, if you reversed the outcome, if Mr Alliston went over the handlebars, had fractured his skull and died and Mrs Briggs got up and dusted herself off, what's to stop her from being prosecuted for manslaughter on the approach the prosecution take, because she should not have been there?"

He also said that Alliston had right of way, and that Mrs Briggs had chosen not to cross the road at a pedestrian crossing 30 feet away from where the collision happened.

"This is not a case of somebody jumping the lights," he maintained.

"This is not a case of an approach speed on this bike that was illegal, it's a 30mph area and the hazards that were in that road were not of Mr Alliston's making."

He added: "The Crown have run with this 'no brake' point without, you may think, a proper analysis of the stepping back point.

"Their preoccupation with brakes and speed is in contrast with what the defendant was saying, which was really about the position of Mrs Briggs and she was, in due respect, the hazard."

In her summing-up of the case, Judge Wendy Joseph QC, reiterated the evidence of a police officer who estimated Alliston's speed at betwen 10 and 14 miles an hour.

The jury is now considering its verdict on the charges.

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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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