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Tipper truck driver guilty of death by careless driving

David Cox, the driver whose tipper truck crushed to death cyclist Brian Dorling at Bow Roundabout in 2011 has been sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for a year, according to The Docklands and East London Advertiser.

The 49-year-old pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving after he drove his lorry into Brian Dorling, 58, on the morning of October 24 2011. [Editor's note: the case was originally misreported as causing death by dangerous driving.]

Mr Dorling was on his way to work at the Olympic Park at the time, using the blue cycle lane by which Cycle Superhighway 2 traverses Bow Roundabout. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

At the Inner London Court on Monday, Cox was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for one year; disqualified from driving for two years; and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.

Det Supt Helen Lambert, from the Metropolitan Police’s road death investigation unit, said: “Brian Dorling’s family have been left devastated by his untimely and sudden death.

“This was a tragic incident involving two different road users and it highlights the vulnerability of cyclists who ride alongside large vehicles.”

Many commenters on Twitter expressed surprise and outrage that Cox was not jailed and did not recieve a lifetime driving ban.

However, Tom Edwards, Transport and Environment Correspondent for BBC London pointed out that Cox has not driven since the accident and that Brian Dorling’s widow Debbie did not want him jailed.

“You can see he’s remorseful and see that he’s haunted. He is a broken man, said Debbie Dorling. “Putting him in prison is not going to achieve anything.”

Sara Dowling of campaign group Road Peace drew our attention to the error in the the original reporting of this case, and commented: "Causing death by careless driving is a charge that rarely results in a custodial sentence, in fact less than 30% of drivers charged with causing death by careless driving get a  custodial sentence. And RoadPeace would argue that increased use of longer driving bans is a much more appropriate response to careless driving than prison.

"The real issue here  is the misuse of the careless driving charge – time and time again we see it being used for cases that should be considered dangerous. In this case the driver went through a red light, surely falling far below the standard of a careful and competent driver. But yet again the CPS shifts towards the more lenient charge. A guilty plea means no trial and fewer costs.

"But even with a causing death by dangerous driving charge a longer driving ban would be unlikely as the courts are very reluctant to ‘punish’ drivers in this way – nearly half of drivers who kill receive no disqualification (12.7% endorsed, 33.6% need to retake test so can drive with a qualified driver)."

Bow's deadly roundabout

Dorling was the first of two people on bikes to be killed by trucks on Bow roundabout in 2011. Less than three weeks later 34-year-old Svitlana Tereschenko was killed by a tipper truck at approximately 4.45pm on the evening of Friday, November 11.

The inquest into Ms Tereschenko’s death returned a narrative verdict.  Deputy coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe ruled that Ms Tereschenko died "as a result of traumatic road death". Although the driver, Gurpreet Shergill failed to indicate and was talking on a mobile phone at the time, Dr Radcliffe went on to conclude "that nobody is to blame".

The two deaths led to improvements to Bow roundabout, including the fitting of advance traffic lights to allow cyclists to move off ahead of dangerous motor vehicles.

London Cycling Campaign had warned before Cycle Superhighway 2 was built that routing cyclists through Bow roundabout was extremely dangerous, and that the rest of the route, largely an intermittent blue stripe on the road was totally unfit for purpose.

After the deaths of Mr Dorling and Ms Tereschenko it emerged that in the planning of Cycle Superhighway 2, Transport for London had ignored recommendations from the civil engineering firm, Jacobs Consultancy to install traffic signals specifically for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as separate cycle tracks.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.