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Jury return accidental death verdict at inquest on Richard Phillips-Schofield

The family of a cyclist who was killed in a crash at a velodrome in Portsmouth have said that they plan to take legal action after a jury returned a verdict of accidental death at the inquest into his death.

Police officer Richard Phillips-Schofield died in hospital two days after the crash at the Mountbatten Centre’s outdoor track on 9 March 2014.

The incident, which happened during the final lap of the race, saw him crash into the barriers, sustaining fatal injuries to his head and chest.

 

Portsmouth News reports that in its verdict at the end of the seven-day inquest, the jury said: “Richard died as a result of injuries sustained due to coming into contact at speed with an unyielding object after falling from his cycle.”

However, his father Frederick insists that Phillips-Schofield’s death was “preventable” and that some questions about the circumstances remain unanswered.

‘The barriers played a significant part in Richard’s death and in our view were clearly unsafe and we believe that the event should never have taken place at all,” he said.

He added that the family was “upset that British Cycling did not express their condolences at the time of Richard’s death,” although the organisations then president, Bob Howden, did make a statement at the time.

"My thoughts and those of everyone at British Cycling are with Richard’s family and friends and with his team," he said.

> Cyclist dies after crash at Portsmouth's Mountbatten closed circuit

“This is a tragedy which will sadden the whole cycle sport community in this country.”

At the inquest, barrister David Haines, acting for the Phillips-Schofield family quizzed a director of British Cycling’s director and race organiser Tim Knight from Racing Club Omega, about the safety of the track.

“There was no excuse for an unsafe and dangerous track,” he said, adding that “The person on the day wasn’t suitable to carry out the risk assessment.”

After the jury had delivered its verdict, British Cycling director of cycling Jonny Clay told the inquest that “weaknesses had been exposed” through the crash that caused Mr Phillips-Schofield’s death.

That included new risk assessment procedures being drawn up for venues and events sanctioned by the governing body, and new fencing at Carmarthen and Preston Park velodromes, as well as at the Mountbatten Centre.

However, the victim’s father said: ‘It’s telling that since Richard’s tragic death, belated though it might be, the unsafe barriers at all three closed circuit tracks … have been replaced.

“Although it required my son’s preventable death before action was taken, hopefully that will mean other families do not have to go through what we have experienced,” he added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.