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Drivers who ‘didn’t see’ cyclists they killed both escape jail

Non-custodial sentences handed down following fatal crashes in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire

Two ​motorists who said they “didn’t see” the cyclists they killed, with one of the fatal crashes taking place in Cambridgeshire and the other in Lincolnshire, have escaped jail, with one handed a suspended jail sentences, the other a community order.

George Donaldson, aged 88, died in hospital on 5 October 2017, five days after he was struck by 78-year-old Josephine John in Sawston, Cambridgeshire at around 1.15pm on Saturday 30 September.

The motorist, who lived locally, had been driving around the roundabout at High Street and Link Road when she hit Mr Donaldson, reports the Cambridgeshire Independent.

When she was interviewed by police in June 2018, she said that she heard a “clatter” as she drove around the roundabout, and said she “didn’t see” the cyclist before the collision.

John was voluntarily interviewed in June 2018 and claimed she was negotiating the roundabout when she heard a “clatter”.

She pleaded guilty at Cambridge Crown Court to causing death by careless driving and was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and was also banned from driving for a year.

PC Ian Masters of Cambridgeshire Constabulary said: “This is a tragic case that has sadly resulted in an elderly man losing his life.

“Although John did not intend for this collision to happen, it is a stark reminder of the importance of the responsibility motorists have in staying alert.

“I urge people to ensure they pay careful attention when driving, and be particularly aware of vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians,” he added.

The second case related to the death of Flight Lieutenant Barrie John Docherty, 43, who was cycling home from work at RAF Cranwell when BMW driver Michael Bohan crashed into him on the A607 at Leadenham, Lincolnshire, on the evening of January 7, 2019.

Bohan said that he had not seen the cyclist, who was wearing bright clothing and had working lights on his bike at the time of the fatal collision, reports The Lincolnite.

Prosecutor David Lee told Lincoln Crown Court: “The cyclist was thrown onto the windscreen and died shortly afterwards.

“The defendant, in fairness to him, dialled 999 and others who appeared on the scene helped including a nurse who helped as best she could the deceased man.

“The defendant was going to pick up his daughter. There was a text sent to him and he then made voice calls.”

The court heard that Bohan’s mobile phone was fixed to his car and that the motorist was using a Bluetooth earpiece.

“The position is that at the time he was carrying on a conversation and not texting. It does appear, therefore, that was a fact which may have been the reason why he said he simply didn’t see the cyclist,” Mr Lee said.

“There was no fault with the vehicle that he was driving and there was no fault with the cycle. There is no evidence of excessive speed. It is simply a case where he didn’t see the cycle.

“He has been driving without blemish for some time so he obviously normally drives carefully. This ordinarily careful driver has not seen the cyclist.”

Bohan, who admitted causing death by careless driving, was handed a 12 month community order with 300 hours of unpaid work and was made subject to an electronically monitored night-time curfew for four months. He was also banned from driving for 12 months.

Sentencing Bohan, Judge John Pini QC said: “The consequences of what happened could not have been more catastrophic and they have caused utter devastation to the lives of Mr Doherty’s family.

“On the other hand the culpability is the lowest in the criminal calendar, namely carelessness.

“Mr Bohan had a momentary lapse of concentration and failed to see Mr Doherty.

“In passing sentence I am not putting a value on Barrie John’s life. His life was beyond value to his loved ones and they have the deepest sympathy of this court.

“Mr Bohan accepts that he was using a hands-free phone to talk to his daughter.

“The accident investigator’s report says that he simply did not see Mr Doherty and he was there to be seen.

“Hands-free phones are clearly lawful, although it does not follow that because they are lawful they cannot be a distraction.”

The judge added that “The difficulty I have is one of evidence,” explaining that he could not be certain, based on the evidence presented in court, that the driver’s use of the mobile phone was the reason he had not seen the cyclist.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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