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Driver who crushed cyclist spared jail after victim's family forgive him

Driver handed suspended eight-month prison sentence, 240 hours of unpaid work and banned from driving for three years.

A driver in his seventies who crushed a female cyclist with his cement mixer was handed a suspended sentence after his victim's family pleaded with the judge to show mercy.

In August we reported how 75-year-old Stephen Bateman was found guilty of careless driving that killed Joanna Braithwaite, 34, as she cycled to work on October 28 last year.

But after Joanna's family intervened. Judge Harold Persaud handed down a suspended eight-month prison sentence, 240 hours of unpaid work and banned Bateman from driving for three years.

He said: "They [the parents] do not seek retribution and have recognised how this has affected you."

Bateman had driven more than two million miles without incident before hitting Joanna.

Prosecutor Charles Ward-Jackson told the hearing in Oxford: "In reversing the defendant should have been aware of Miss Braithwaite at the junction. In interview (with police) he admitted he did not see her at all.

"The carelessness is the double failure to see her when he went backwards and then forwards."

Charlotte and Paul Braithwaite, Joanna's parents, told the Daily Mail: 'There is really no way to express in words our sadness at the death our daughter Joanna.

'She was full of joy and hope and our world is a darker place without her.

'We are and have always been quite certain that he in no way intended to hurt her in any way and so we bear no personal grudge towards him.

'We would see no useful purpose in a man of his age being given a custodial sentence.

If Bateman chooses to return to driving following his three-year ban, he will have to take an extended driving test.

Reverend Charlie Cleverly of St Aldate's Church, Pembroke Street, where Joanna worked as an assistant, told the BBC at the time of her death: "She was full of life, laughter and wisdom.

"It's a terrible tragedy, one of those chaotic events that comes into a groaning world.

"She was an amazing girl. We're all devastated."

Lorries account for a disproportionate number of cycling fatalities given the proportion of traffic that they make up. Construction vehicles - tipper trucks and cement lorries account for a disproportionate number of the cycling deaths caused by HGVs and are by far the most dangerous vehicles to cyclists on Britain's roads.

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