Anna Haslock, the partner of ultracyclist Mike Hall who was killed when he was hit from behind by a motorist near Canberra in March last year, has strongly criticised the Australian Federal Police for its “flawed investigation” of his death.
She made her comments in a message posted to the website of Cycle, Australia’s national cycling campaign group, which has been providing detailed coverage of the inquest into Hall’s death, which closed today.
The 35-year-old had been competing in the inaugural Indian Pacific Wheel Race when he was killed at around 6.20am on 31 March last year.
Haslock, who raised money through crowdfunding to be able to attend the inquest in Canberra, wrote: "The three-day hearing of the inquest into the road traffic collision that killed Mike Hall has closed, and yet we are left with many questions remaining unanswered.”
She said she was “deeply disappointed” with the AFP for its “poor handling of the case and their flawed investigation, including:
“A police reconstruction that failed to test several important elements of Mike’s visibility system.
“The AFP failing to retain vital evidence such as Mike’s clothing.
“The AFP failing to seize the driver's phone at the time of the incident. By his own admission, the driver was distracted, and we have been unable to eliminate the phone as that distraction.”
“Mike had every right to be cycling on the road at the time,” she continued. “He was well lit and riding safely. He had every right to assume that the car approaching him from behind would pass him safely and according to the law.
“I attended the Court with a clear mandate from those who supported me via the Just Giving fund to bear witness and to ask questions where and when I was able to. I did this to the best of my ability with the support of local and national cycling organisations. I will now be considering my options and getting further legal advice.”
Shegu Bobb, the motorist who hit Hall from behind, was excused from giving evidence at the inquest after notes to police interviews described him as a “suggestible” witness, reports the Canberra Times.
Coroner Bernadette Boss acknowledged that "The quality of his evidence would be very poor."
Bobb, aged 19 at the time, had been driving at the speed limit of 100 kilometres an hour on the Monora Highway when he hit Hall, killing him instantly and leaving his bike impaled in the bonnet of his car.
Witnesses said that after the fatal collision, Bobb had his phone on his lap and had dialled the emergency number 000 but was unable to speak due to shock. He has faced no charges in connection with Hall’s death.
As with the previous two days of the hearing, there were conflicting reports from different witnesses as to how visible Hall and his bike were on the morning of his death.
A police reconstruction suggested that his bike would have been difficult to see at night, although video footage played at the inquest of Hall riding showed otherwise.
The coroner’s findings are due to be published early next year,
“The Coroner paid her respects to Mike as an impressive individual who could have gone on to achieve many more great things,” Haslock added. “Her words were a comfort, but the unfortunate reality is that the community of Mike's loved ones, friends and peers are left with many unanswered questions."
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.