A lorry driver has been cleared of causing the death of a cyclist by careless driving, despite admitting that he was travelling at a speed that was around a third above the 40mph speed limit on the road where the fatal incident took place.
Olin Poulson from Pencader, Carmarthenshire, aged 20 and a student at Cardiff University, had been cycling with his mother on the A40 close to Carmarthen when he was killed on 3 September 2010, reports the BBC.
A jury at Swansea Crown Court heard that the pair were preparing to stop at the High Noon Service Station at White Mill, where they were due to meet Olin’s brother, when he was struck by the overtaking lorry as he prepared to turn right.
Tacograph analysis revealed that lorry driver Christopher Shapland had been traveling at 55mph on the road, which carries a 40mph limit, and as he braked to try and avoid a collision, his speed dropped to 52mph at the moment of impact.
He admitted driving above the speed limit, but denied that it was a contributory factor in the cyclist’s death. He also acknowledged that he had been using a hands-free mobile phone shortly before the fatal incident, but maintained that he had ceased talking to focus on overtaking.
Shapland, from Brecon, reportedly in tears as he gave evidence, told the court that Olin had signalled to turn right but failed to look behind him as he began to execute the manouevre.
He described how he could hear Olin’s mother Mary screaming once he had managed to stop his lorry, which ended up on the kerb on the opposite side of the road as he sought to avoid hitting the cyclist, who ended up underneath the lorry.
Shapland insisted, however, that his driving had not contributed to Olin’s death.
Judge Keith Thomas expressed the court's sympathy to the Poulson family.
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.