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Driver who killed cyclist suffered from “automatism” claims defence

Brian Cole claimed to be unaware of what he was doing when before crash in which Stephen Turner died

A driver convicted of causing the death of a cyclist by careless driving was suffering from “automatism” at the time of the fatal collision, according to his defending barrister.

Nicholas Tucker told Winchester Crown Court that his client Brian Cole, aged 64, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, “was not aware of what he was doing” prior to hitting cyclist Stephen Turner on the Alton by-pass.

The jury heard that Mr Tucker would have been visible to drivers for approximately 20 seconds before Cole, who was driving a Peugeot 207 struck him at around 5.45pm on 18 November 2016, reports the Daily Echo.

Cole, a former police officer, was found to have been above the limit for drug-driving for methamphetamine, a side effect of the medication he was taking to treat his illness.

Tom Wright, prosecuting, told the court: “It’s likely a motorist would have been able to see the cyclist.”

He said that while the street was unlit, Mr Turner’s bike had lights on it, and countered the defendant’s insistence that he was unaware of what he was doing, with a witness who had been driving behind him at approximately 70 miles an hour recalling that Cole nearly struck another vehicle as he overtook it.

“A competent and careful driver would not have collided with a brightly clothed cyclist visible from hundreds of yards away,” Mr Wright said.

In Cole’s defence, Mr Tucker said: “He hadn’t been advised by his doctors that it was unsafe to drive. Cole did not brake or take evasive action. His behaviour in the aftermath was bizarre.”

Cole was handed an 18-month jail sentence, suspended for 24 months. He also received a five-year driving  ban and once that expires will have to take an extended retest.

Simon has been news editor at 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.

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