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“Distracted” lorry driver cleared of killing cyclist through dangerous or careless driving

Prosecutors claimed that Tomas Mikalajunas was watching YouTube when he struck cyclist Arunn Niessan Marusaleen in December 2018

A lorry driver has been cleared of causing death by dangerous or careless driving, despite prosecutors’ claims that he was distracted by a television show when he struck cyclist Arunn Niessan Marusaleen on the A40 Witney bypass in December 2018.

32-year-old Tomas Mikalajunas claimed that he had not seen Marusaleen before he hit him with his HGV on the straight section of road, despite the cyclist wearing a hi-viz jacket and a red rear light. Marusaleen died at the scene after Mikalajunas and another motorist performed CPR.

Prosecutor Nigel Osborne claimed that the lorry driver was distracted by a Lithuanian television programme – described earlier in the trial as a ‘Jeremy Kyle-type show’ – which the motorist was playing on YouTube through his phone in the moments before the crash.

However, the Crown could not confirm whether the HGV driver was watching the programme or simply listening to the audio.

> Lorry driver who killed cyclist after rolling through give way said he was taught to "progress where possible"

During the trial, Mikalajunas maintained: “My attention was on the road, on the area that was lit by the lights of my car. I didn’t see [him]. [The TV show] was in my native language and I was not distracted.”

Both prosecution and defence collision experts agreed that the cyclist would have been visible between 10 and 13 seconds before the crash, though since the rear red light was destroyed in the incident it was impossible for the court to establish its make or model.

It took the jurors just over three hours to find Mikalajunas not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving.

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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