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Lorry firm ordered to close after cyclist's death – bosses admit lying to public inquiry

S&J Transport falsely claimed it was not aware of dashboard table that obscured driver’s view

In December 2019, a lorry driver who hit Birmingham cyclist Dr Suzanna Bull because his view was blocked by a dashboard tray table was jailed for 21 months for causing her death by careless driving. The firm for which he worked, S&J Transport, will now have its operator's licence revoked on October 1 following a public inquiry.

On October 9, 2017, Robert Bradbury passed Bull, who was riding in the Pershore Road cycle lane, before pulling up behind a van at the lights at the junction with Priory Road.

Bull went ahead when the lights turned green and Bradbury turned left into her. The court heard that she was "dragged under the lorry".

Bull had been in a position where Bradbury should have seen her, but he failed to do so because a tray-table, a cap, a sat-nav system, a fan, ornaments and other items had been placed in the centre of the dashboard of his 32-tonne Scania.

Asked why he had the tray table during his trial, Bradbury said: "Just so I could be one of the lads. They all had one so I got one."

S&J Transport pleaded guilty to failing to discharge its duty contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act by failing to supervise the use of the tables and was fined £112,500 and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs.

The BBC reports that a public inquiry was then opened by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner, which is responsible for the licensing of operators of heavy goods vehicles.

The company claimed it was not aware of the dashboard table, but concerns were raised by PC Mark Crozier of West Midlands Police, who said that this contradicted evidence given during the trial.

The inquiry was adjourned so that he could give evidence, after which the company "accepted it had misled" the commissioner and had been aware Bradbury was driving with the table in place.

On September 2, S&J Transport was officially closed down. Its directors and transport manager have also been disqualified for five years.

Crozier said: "Truthfully, I am pleased with the outcome following this public inquiry as it further holds the company to account for the tragic loss of an innocent life.

“Suzie Bull was a doctor at the city’s hospital and her family were very vocal about the need for all those involved to take responsibility for their actions that resulted in the 32-year-old being killed.

“The doctor was wearing bright pink high-visibility clothing in a dedicated cycle lane and should have been in full view in Bradbury’s mirror for five seconds as she cycled ahead of him, but the lorry still collided with her and caused catastrophic injuries.

"I believe it could have been avoided if the driver didn't have a dashboard filled with clutter on top of a table and I'm glad that Suzie's family know we have done all we can to get justice for her death.

“Again, I will reiterate, I hope this sends a serious message to all road hauliers and drivers to review their vehicle checking processes as the safety of all road users is and always should be a priority.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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