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York Racecourse faces prosecution over Ruby Milnes' death

Charges brought in connection with death of teenage cyclist killed by a lorry while she rode on cycle path in 2008

The company that operates York Racecourse faces prosecution at York Magistrates’ Court in February following a decision by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to bring charges against the business over two alleged breaches of health and safety at work legislation in connection with the death, in May 2008, of 17-year-old cyclist Ruby Milnes.

The teenager was killed by a lorry being driven on an access road to the racecourse that cut across the Sustrans-maintained York-Selby cycle path as she returned from York College to her home in Bishophill.

As previously reported on, in May last year the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to press potential charges of corporate manslaughter against York Racecourse Knavesmire LLP, operators of the racecourse, because it believed there was no realistic prospect of securing a conviction.

It did, however, pass its files to the HSE to see if there were grounds for a prosecution to be brought under legislation falling within that body’s competence, resulting in the decision to bring charges on two counts, reports the York Press.

Both charges relate to alleged breaches of, respectively, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999,

Those pieces of legislation are primarily designed to ensure the safety of employees while engaged in their employment, but also extend to persons not employed by the business who may be affected by its conduct, in this case cyclists using the path running across the property.

A spokesman for York Racecourse acknowledged that it had been made aware of the HSE’s decision to prosecute.

“Our first thoughts remain for the family and friends of Ruby Milnes,” he told the York Press. “We offer them our sincere condolences.

“The racecourse has fully co-operated with the various investigations into the sad events of that afternoon and will continue to do so.”

The spokesman said that the business had systems in place to ensure that it complied with its obligations under health and safety legislation.

“As well as being a key task for all members of the team, the course retains an expert in this field who guides the team through the principles of the legislation, supports the provision of important documentation, and helps assess over 5,000 individual risks, whilst creating a health and safety aware culture,” he explained.

“York Racecourse has a good relationship with the relevant authorities and has faced no previous such proceedings.

“As the issues are now to be set before a court, we do not believe it is appropriate to make any further comment at this time,” he concluded.

Reacting to the news, Ruby’s parents, Al and Dave Milnes, commented: “We’re pleased that the HSE are taking an interest in what happened to Ruby.

“For us, there’s no outcome that could give us our daughter back but we hope that this prosecution results in cycle paths being made safe for cyclists everywhere in the country.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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