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Jury fails to reach verdict in lorry driver death case

Argument centres on whether cyclist was on or off the carriageway when HGV hit him

A jury has failed to reach a verdict in the case of a lorry driver accused of causing the death of a cyclist by dangerous driving - and the Crown has 14 days to decide whether he should face a retrial.

Paul Dove, 54, hit Christopher Paul Griffiths, 50, on the A19 southbound with his Mercedes heavy goods vehicle. After deliberating for five hours and 17 minutes the foreman said there was no possibility of reaching a verdict.

Mr Griffiths was cycling home from work at about 7am on Monday, January 23, last year.

At the trial at Teesside Crown Court, Mr Dove denied causing death by careless driving, although witnesses say that Mr Griffiths was outside the rumble strip in the hard shoulder, and so Mr Dove must have left the marked lane in order to hit him - an allegation Mr Dove denies.

Prosecutor Paul Cleasby said other drivers had seen Mr Griffiths and were able to avoid him.

According to Gazette Live, he said of Dove: “Had he paid attention, had he been watching what he was doing, no collision would have occurred on January 23, resulting in a tragic loss of life.”

Stuart Driver QC, representing Dove, said the jury couldn’t be sure that the lorry had crossed the line. He said the defendant was an experienced driver, with a “great” driving record, was well rested and early in his journey.

In an interview Mr Dove told police officers the cyclist was not riding but standing next to his bike and was on the line, not beyond it, the court heard.

But police said the bike was between Mr Griffith's legs when emergency services arrived at the scene.

PC Robin Turner, who investigated the collision, said all the witnesses had seen Mr Griffiths cycling in the hard shoulder.

He said: “They should never have come into contact if both are in their respective areas.”

Mr Dove said he saw a “flash” then realised he had hit something. He said: “I hit the anchors as hard as I could, stayed in a straight line, stopped it, pulled it over.”

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