Anna Haslock, the partner of ultracyclist Mike Hall who was killed while racing in Australia two years ago, says she believes the investigation into his death by the Australian Federal Police [AFP] was “flawed” since the officer conducting it “was biased and drew premature and incorrect conclusions based on assumption rather than the evidence.”
Hall was killed near Canberra in March 2017 when he was struck by a car driven by 19-year-old Shegu Bobb. At the time, the 35-year-old had been lying second in the Indian-Pacific Wheel Race from Fremantle to Sydney.
On Friday, Australian Capital Territory coroner Bernadette Boss said that Hall’s death was “avoidable” as she published her findings following an inquest last year, which Haslock attended.
But the coroner said that it was "unfortunate that the investigation into his death has been to some degree compromised by the loss of significant evidence," including Hall’s clothing and cycling equipment, which police had failed to preserve.
In a public post published on Facebook this morning, Haslock said: “The inquest was undoubtedly hampered by the flawed police investigation. The officer responsible for the investigation was biased and drew premature and incorrect conclusions based on assumption rather than the evidence.
“Because of this he failed to gather evidence and investigate properly the issue of driver distraction; a common cause of RTCs [road traffic collisions].
“I have seen evidence to suggest the driver might have been using his phone while driving the day prior to the collision, the phone should have been seized for forensic examination but it was not. I imagine that data is impossible to retrieve two years on.”
She said she felt “some vindication” that the coroner had “referred the matter back to the AFP to consider if a section 6 charge has been committed” – a reference to the section of the Section 6 Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT) that creates the offence of negligent driving.
Haslock said that “The AFP should make every effort to rectify their errors and, where possible, correctly investigate the evidence to establish if there is a reasonable basis for a finding the driver guilty of an offence.
“I am not driven by anger towards the driver, I am driven by my commitment to truth and justice,” she continued. “What actually happened that morning matters to me very, very much and getting justice for Mike and for cyclists is what drives me.”
As many stories published here on road.cc over the years highlight, conflict between motorists and cyclists seems particularly common in Australia, but Haslock insisted that “A 'them and us' mentality dividing drivers and cyclists is not the answer.”
She said: “We need everybody to recognise that roads are shared spaces, speed limits are LIMITS and not suggestions, driving is dangerous and we all have to take more responsibility.
“I hope that other people do not have to go through what I have to learn these lessons. We have to slow down, be more patient and kind to each other. We all think something like this won't happen to us, but it does. It happens to someone just like you every day.”
She added: “My immediate intention is to press the AFP for answers and assurances this mess will not be repeated, I also intend that my work for Lost Dot will support road justice long into the future.
Haslock concluded her post by saying: “I would like to thank you, the amazing cycling community Mike introduced me to, for all your patience, kindness and support throughout these difficult two years.
“When I first met Mike, in a friend’s kitchen in Cardiff, I had no idea the impact he would have on my life, all of which I am grateful for. Thank you Mike.”
The full text of the coroner’s report can be found on the Bicycling Australia website.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.