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Cyclist whose life was ruined by careless driver calls for harsher sentencing

Lost livelihood and had fractured skull - but driver got £300 fine and four penalty points - partly because cyclist not wearing helmet

A man who lost his livelihood and suffered a fractured skull due to a careless driver has called for harsher sentencing after the man who hit him was  fined £300 and given four penalty points on his licence.

Nigel Barclay, 45, from Banstead, was on his way home from a ride in March when Harry Ledger, 19, turned across him and knocked him from his bike.

Mr Barclay spent two months in hospital, having suffered a fractured skull, multiple facial fractures, and broken arms, legs and pelvis. He also suffered brain injury, leaving him deaf in one ear and with double vision in one eye.

He has not been able to work in his job as a gate installer, and may never be able to do physical work again.

He told the Local Guardian: He said: "Victims are being let down by the courts and the people who cause the problems seem to get away with it lightly.

"This guy has totally changed my life.

"Because I suffered a brain injury, I had to surrender my licence, but the guy who caused this has not had his licence taken away.

"I was a man in his mid-40s who was perfectly fit and able, enjoyed sports and playing with my kids.

"Now, I’ll have to be very careful not to sustain any more injuries."

Ledger pleaded guilty to careless driving, but the court took into account the fact that Mr Barclay had taken off his helmet because he was close to home.

There is no legal requirement for cyclists to wear helmets in the UK, but it's not the first time injured riders have been disadvantaged in court by not wearing one at the time of their accident. This is in spite of helmets only being certified to help prevent injuries at low speeds below 12mph.

Mr Barclay, who is seeking damages from Ledger, said: "There’s no legal requirement to wear a helmet, and, even if I was wearing one, it wouldn’t have helped me with the breaks in my arms, legs or pelvis, which are having the biggest effects on my life.

"There’s clear evidence to suggest that a helmet only makes a difference in a low speed collision."

The local paper backs this up, pointing out: "Cycle helmets provide best protection in situations involving simple, low-speed falls with no other party involved."

His solicitor, Malcolm Underhill of IBB Solicitors, said: "If someone is charged with careless driving, the starting point in the criminal justice system is the court looking at the standard of the person’s driving - it does not particularly take into account the ramifications of the person’s actions.

"Mr Barclay’s issues will affect him for the rest of his life and, conscious of that, there is an imbalance."

As we have been reporting in recent weeks, British Cycling, along with a number of other publications and campaign groups, are lobbying for an ugent review of sentencing in cases involving the death or serious injury of cyclists.

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