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Pharmaceutical consultant who killed cyclist while driving on wrong side of road cleared of careless driving

“I can’t help it if a cyclist falls over as I’m approaching them"...

A pharmaceutical industry consultant has been cleared of causing death by careless driving after she hit a cyclist while overtaking on a bend.

Dr Helen Measures, 51, was overtaking two other cyclists and on the wrong side of the road when she hit Denisa Perinova, 21 on the A415 near Henley-on-Thames on July 15 last year.

The court heard that Ms Perinova was riding with her boyfriend, Ben Pontin, and lost control of her bike when she saw Dr Measures’ Mini heading toward them.

Dr Measures’ car hit Ms Perinova at up to 50mph, flinging her 15 yards into the entrance of a nearby field.

Mr Pontin said he saw Dr Measures make a “stupid manoeuvre” on a curve in the road, leaving him just a “tiny gap”. He felt his girlfriend’s wheels touch his bike and when he looked round she had been hurled into the entrance of a field.

“I just couldn’t believe the person driving had overtaken at that point,” he said.

Ms Perinova’s helmet was smashed. She was taken to Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and later transferred to a specialist neurological unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. She died a week later from her injuries.

It was her first ride on a bike that Mr Pontin had recently bought her.

"I would expect cyclists to remain upright"

During the trial Dr Measures claimed that Ms Perinova had fallen into her path. Sandra Beck, prosecuting asked her, “You are relying on other road users avoiding you when you are on their side of the road?”

“I can’t help it if a cyclist, with all due respect, falls over as I’m approaching them and comes into my line of travel,” Dr Measures said. “I would expect cyclists to generally remain upright as the first cyclist did.

“You do not make a manoeuvre if you don’t think it is safe to do so. Had everyone stayed upright, there would not have been an issue,” she said.

Dr Measures admitted she had not seen the oncoming riders as she decided there was “sufficient room” to slow down and pass.

She said she was “surprised” to see Mr Pontin and Ms Perinova coming toward her as came round the bend at 40 to 50mph, but felt they had room to get past.

“I had to make a decision of what to do. I felt the safest decision was to continue straight ahead because they were in single file. If I had been concerned, I would have stopped suddenly.”

The jury deliberated for three hours before returning a ‘not guilty’ verdict.

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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