A lorry driver has been acquitted of causing the death of a cyclist through careless driving, after a jury failed to reach a verdict – just as one did in the same case in April this year, forcing a retrial.
Christopher Griffiths, aged 50, died when he was struck from behind by a lorry driven by 55-year-old Paul Dove on the A19 near Billingham, County Durham, in January last year.
Mr Griffiths had been riding along a one-metre wide strip of asphalt to the left of a rumble-strip on the left-hand side of the dual carriageway road. The driver had denied moving out of his lane prior to hitting the cyclist.
In April, a jury was discharged after failing to reach a verdict on the case. Yesterday, the judge sitting on the retrial recorded a not guilty verdict against the driver after the jury again was unable to agree its verdict.
On Tuesday, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, had asked the jury foreman in the retrial whether there was a realistic prospect of it reaching a decision following seven and a half hours of deliberation, reports Gazettelive.co.uk.
Upon being informed that there was not, he told the jury: “You've done your very best. There's no criticism at all that you've failed to reach a verdict.
"It happens. It's happened in this case before. It's what happened in the first trial.
"The jury was in exactly the same position, singularly unable to reach a verdict on which at least 10 of you are agreed."
Paul Cleasby, speaking for the prosecution, said: "Both juries have done their best and, clearly from their lack of verdicts, there are views on both sides but not sufficient to warrant a verdict one way or another."
The judge told Mr Griffiths family: “I hope you can understand the difficulty that both juries were faced with.
"They were faced with, first, conflicting evidence to an extent from experts.
"There was no eyewitness account to confirm precisely where this collision occurred.
"I'm afraid there has to come a stage when there's a reality check," added Judge Bourne-Arton.
"And no further trial would in my judgment improve the situation at all.
"And so the Crown have taken essentially the only course that they could have in the circumstances.
"I'm sorry it's come to this. I'm sorry you haven't had finality but I hope you understand why," he added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.