Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Motorist called “disrespectful” by coroner for refusing to answer questions after causing cyclist’s death

The driver was released after being arrested on suspicion of death by careless driving, and answered “no comment” to every single question asked by the coroner

A motorist involved in a fatal collision which resulted in a cyclist’s death in Hampshire has been branded “disrespectful” by the coroner after she refused to answer any questions, replying with a curt “no comment” at the inquest attended by the deceased’s family.

45-year-old Oliver Gadney, a “keen and experienced” cyclist, was riding on Newton Lane, between Andover and Winchester, on August 15, 2021 with his friend, when he was hit by Alice Kitching driving a Vauxhall Astra.

Kitching was asked questions regarding Gadney's death by the coroner at the Winchester Coroner’s Court, but at the advice of her legal representative, she answered “no comment” to every question, reports the Daily Echo.

After the crash, Kitching had been arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving, as well as causing death by driving a vehicle while unlicensed or uninsured.

However, she was released without charge. A post-mortem later revealed that Gadney had died soon after from head injuries caused by the collision.

The coroner asked Kitching: “Are you going to answer no comment to all my questions?”, to which Kitching replied: “Yes.”

> Warning signs could have saved cyclist’s life who hit pothole and died in her daughter’s arms, hears inquest

Gadney, of Greenacres, Barton Stacey, was cycling with his friend Mark Wadey on the day he died, and Wadey described him as “the nicest guy you could ever meet”.

Wadey said: “He was a generous, genuine and funny guy. We went cycling together on a regular basis. He was a very safe rider who always erred on the side of caution.”

The inquest heard that Gadney and Wadey approached a sharp left-hand bend in the road. Wadey said: “Suddenly the car was right there. I heard a loud bang behind me and saw Oliver catapulted over the bonnet. He was unresponsive, so I called 999.”

Kitching was breathalysed at the scene, which came back negative. In a statement to police after the incident, she said that she had held a full driving licence for about three months and that she had been driving at a speed which was appropriate for the conditions.

However, a forensic collision investigation report concluded that neither Mr Gadney nor Ms Kitching had sufficient time to react.

> Learner driver who was speeding and on a phone call jailed for 14 months for killing milkman cycling to work

The coroner said at the inquest: “Mr Gadney was just 45 when he died. He was a keen, frequent and experienced cyclist who was familiar with the road. Based on the evidence, he approached the bend at 15mph.

“Ms Kitching chose to answer all of my questions as ‘no comment’. She does have the right not to incriminate herself. Ms Kitching approached the bend at 18mph. It is a narrow road with vegetation, so there was insufficient time for either of them to avoid it.”

The coroner gave the cause of death as a road traffic collision and gave his condolences to the family. 

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

Add new comment

59 comments

Avatar
BBB | 9 months ago
9 likes

To echo some other commemts, many drivers regularily commuting on familiar rular roads are just ticking bombs. They tend to drive at failry constant (seemingly not very high) speed not dynamically adjusting their progress and position to conditions and the road layout.

There is no such thing as high or low speed, just speed (un)suitable for conditions. Some tight bends or hump bridges require slowing down to almost a walking speed in the 1st or 2nd gear and preferably using the horn to warn other traffic.

I believe that driving and theory tests should be more comprehensive and even harder to pass. They should also contain the elements od advanced driving e.g. IAM smart as standard.

Avatar
OldRidgeback replied to BBB | 9 months ago
6 likes

I'd make cycle training compulsory for all drivers taking the test. And I'd make it compulsory for anyone renewing a licence. Tricycles or hand cycles would be available for those unable to ride a bicycle and I doubt many drivers would be so disabled as to be exempt by being unable to operate an electric assist hand cycle. 

Research shows cyclists and motorcyclists make better car drivers through better understanding of road conditions and hazard perception. 

Avatar
IanMSpencer replied to BBB | 9 months ago
4 likes

I've said many times, the IAM Advanced driving test is misnamed. There is absolutely nothing in it that is not required for safe and careful driving.

They cover how to judge the correct safe speed for a corner, how to brake and change gear to maximise control, how to properly overtake minimising the time you are committed on the wrong side of the road, how to observe, to always drive within the speed limit, how to approach junctions more slowly to increase your observation time and judge how to meld with traffic more easily..

There might be a few things that might be considered refinements, but there is nothing that any driver should consider superfluous to good driving.

Avatar
Christopher TR1 | 10 months ago
3 likes

What, she got off Scott free?! How?!

Avatar
IanMSpencer | 10 months ago
13 likes

In this case, I would apply the "What would have happened if they met themselves?" test.

While 18mph seems slow for a car, clearly if another car had also been approaching at 18mph there would have been a collision, probably hard enough to set off airbags and therefore risk some serious injury.

Given that the rule is to drive within your stopping distance, and on a single track road the rule is to halve that, it would appear that however reasonable it sounds, 18mph was probably twice as fast as the corner should have been taken - by either party.

So, what we have is the normalisation of dangerous driving on country lanes - we can't expect drivers to slow to a safe speed around unsighted bends, therefore if an accident results it is acceptable.

My suspicion is that the police might have wanted to prosecute but the CPS took the judgement that the relatively low speeds would seem perfectly reasonable to a typical (drivist) jury or magistrate so the chances of a conviction would be low.

Avatar
Fignon's ghost | 10 months ago
5 likes

My sincere condolences to the family.

Yet again. A perfect example of the NECESSITY in strapping a front and back camera to our bikes.

The camera will dictate that you motorists can shove your no comments where the sun don't shine.

Anyway. Having to live with any guilt cannot be easy.

Avatar
AlsoSomniloquism replied to Fignon's ghost | 10 months ago
6 likes

Why would the camera have made any difference here? The speeds were estimated by crash investigation and we had a witness anyway. 

Avatar
Bungle_52 replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 9 months ago
2 likes

A camera would have been useful as the collision occured BEHIND the surviving cyclist and therefore he could not know whether either was stationary when the collision occurred or even the relative positions in the road. IF it was the case that the cyclist was stationary and on their side of the road when they were hit I suspect blame for the collision could have been attributed by the police. If the circumstances were different, eg driver was stationary on their side of the road, then it may be that the driver genuinely was driving at a suitable speed.

It would not have saved this cyclist but if the driver was shown to have been at fault and the police bothered to pursue it and got a conviction, it would potentially have saved any future victims of this driver as well as acting as a deterrent for other drivers to follow this one's example.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Bungle_52 | 9 months ago
0 likes

It is entirely up to individuals of course but the utility of running cameras is certainly not obvious. They are not a "safety aid" as has been said elsewhere. There are a whole series of uncertain "ifs" between "I had a camera" and "the motorist who hit me / someone else got punished" or even "this might stop a future crash".

It's not a small cost and you do have to maintain things (batteries, checking the footage is still readable etc.)

Maybe if I had a commute in busy or fast traffic I'd reconsider. It's clearly not "what the people are calling for" but why not mandatory cameras in cars where they're much easier to power / protect / secure?

Anyway in this case it seems the main facts are not being questioned - albeit the driver wasn't forthcoming and the reporting is thin so we don't know where they got their speeds from. Having thought about it I don't think a camera would bring much benefit in *this* case.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 9 months ago
3 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

It's clearly not "what the people are calling for" but why not mandatory cameras in cars where they're much easier to power / protect / secure?

This is definitely the direction we should be going. It should be beneficial for insurance companies to provide a discount if drivers are running a camera or insurance company provided black box recorder. It's in the driver's interest (and their insurance company) to use the footage when they are not to blame for incidents and getting other drivers to provide incriminating footage of other drivers would surely lead to safer roads for everyone.

However, I don't think driver dashcams would be of much use when the driver is to blame and there's no other nearby cameras to show what's happened as it would be unreasonable to expect a driver to hand over incriminating footage and trivial for a driver to destroy the footage before it could be requested.

Meanwhile, if you've got the disposable income and inclination to run front and rear cameras on your bike, then it's highly recommended. The more of us that upload close passes and inconsiderate driving, the safer that drivers will become.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Fignon's ghost | 10 months ago
0 likes

I join you in offering condolences.

As said before the camera would not have deterred anyone here.  Again circumstances not clear from the report but I interpret this as a head-on collision going round the bend e.g. genuinely very little time between parties seeing each other and the crash.

Without commenting on the general utility of running cameras and assuming the little we know from the story is true I don't think having video would have made any difference legally to this case.  I think the argument "but my client had slowed right down - the speed limit is 60mph as the road is derestricted" means that neither police, magistrate or judiciary will consider this anything other than a "tragic accident" or "just one of those things".  Or they will say (as one commentor here already has) "but the cyclist was going a similar speed - why didn't they slow down?"

Avatar
brooksby replied to Fignon's ghost | 10 months ago
3 likes

Fignon's ghost wrote:

A perfect example of the NECESSITY in strapping a front and back camera to our bikes.

Do they generate a protective force field, or is that an added extra?

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
3 likes

brooksby wrote:

Fignon's ghost wrote:

A perfect example of the NECESSITY in strapping a front and back camera to our bikes.

Do they generate a protective force field, or is that an added extra?

Maybe the idea is to make cyclists like those creatures which taste really bad?  One for you:

Zaphod: I'm a pretty dangerous dude when I'm cornered.

Ford: Yeah, you go to pieces so fast people get hit by the shrapnel.

Avatar
Fignon's ghost replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
4 likes

Why the anti camera fercocking BS?

As a result of the no comment, we will never know the complete picture.

ALWAYS WEAR A CAMERA.
FRONT AND BACK.

FFS!

Avatar
ooblyboo replied to Fignon's ghost | 9 months ago
1 like

I agree. They may not be useful in every single case but far better evidence if the driver was at fault.

Avatar
Legin | 10 months ago
1 like

My error

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to Legin | 10 months ago
3 likes

Had you even bothered to do any research you'd have seen that there is absolutely no excuse for a driver to miss the existence of those cyclists.  There are 4 bends on the whole damn road - all with clear line of sight on their approaches.

The cyclists were not invisible and hit from the rear.  There is a clear case that the driver was not paying enough attention.  The comments below are justified imo.

 

 

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Secret_squirrel | 10 months ago
0 likes

Secret_squirrel wrote:

Had you even bothered to do any research you'd have seen that there is absolutely no excuse for a driver to miss the existence of those cyclists.  There are 4 bends on the whole damn road - all with clear line of sight on their approaches.

The cyclists were not invisible and hit from the rear.  There is a clear case that the driver was not paying enough attention.  The comments below are justified imo.

Hmm.  I questioned this myself but there is not enough info in the stories.  The road appears to be single-track or near, with almost zero visibility at bends.  Deffo would expect anyone approaching them to slow right down.  My driving instructor would have advised winding down the windows also although hearing an approaching cyclist is not likely and at least one cyclist didn't hear the car...

The road is derestricted though!  Not sure how they determined the speed of the car (presumably crash investigation?) but it wouldn't surprise me if people assume no oncoming traffic and rag it between the bends, possibly carrying a lot of speed into them...

On "invisible and hit from the rear" it's not clear.  To me it seemed more likely the lead cyclist went round the corner, saw car coming the other way go past them, heard the bang and looked back to see the aftermath as the car hit the second cyclist head on.

Avatar
AlsoSomniloquism replied to Secret_squirrel | 10 months ago
3 likes

Quote:

The cyclists were not invisible and hit from the rear.  There is a clear case that the driver was not paying enough attention.  The comments below are justified imo.

I don't think that is the case from the riding mate's statements from the article.

Quote:

Gadney and Wadey approached a sharp left-hand bend in the road. Wadey said: “Suddenly the car was right there. I heard a loud bang behind me and saw Oliver catapulted over the bonnet. He was unresponsive, so I called 999.”

He saw the car, then heard the bang behind him. It was a head on with the car approaching the corner at 18mph and the cyclists at 15mph. The first cyclist was missed probably because he was on the apex line and she was just turning in but the coming together was the rear cyclist who would have been further out on the turn just as the driver would have been coming in more. As it was single track, the wouldn't have been enough room for both, especially as vegetation was mentioned during the summoning up which indicates the road was even narrower.
 

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Legin | 10 months ago
2 likes

Legin wrote:

Have some of the posters actually read this article? 

The only thing that inidcates that she is guilty of any crime is the lawyer instructing her to say no comment.

The coroner stated, "Based on the evidence, he approached the bend at 15mph." "Ms Kitching approached the bend at 18mph. It is a narrow road with vegetation, so there was insufficient time for either of them to avoid it.”

If there is no evidence she can't be charged. If those speeds are accurate one could argue they were both not paying enough attention, as we all know, a cyclist against a car rarely comes out of it well.

Well, it's clear that there was a collision and there doesn't seem to be any explanation other than the driver not paying attention. If there was another reason (e.g. mechanical failure, cyclist suddenly swerving due to poor road surface or even a sudden medical incident) then it would be reasonable to expect the driver to provide some explanation.

I don't know what you're trying to imply by suggesting that the cyclist wasn't paying attention - how would that lead to a collision?

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
2 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

how would that lead to a collision if the driver was behind the cyclist?

Indeed, but if the statement above is accurate and the cyclist was doing 15 and the driver 18. then how was there a collission sufficient to injure the cylists with a speed differential of only 3 miles an hour?

My interpretation is that both the cyclists and the driver approached the same bend at a similar speed from opposite directions. So both were approaching the same bend at a similar speed and equally unaware of what was approaching from the other side. The lead cyclist saw the car (as as they flashed past each other) and then heard it collide the rear cyclist. the car did not approach from behind but it was behind the witness at the point of impact.

Now we can argue that maybe the cyclists can go faster round these bends as they only need half the road, so can pass oncoming cyclists without issue. But that's crazy as the vehicle coming the other way is most likely to be filling the space. I wonder if it was a electric car that the cyclists dodn't appear to hear it approaching.

Avatar
ChrisB200SX replied to wycombewheeler | 10 months ago
6 likes

Hierarchy of responsibility. The cyclists are unlikely to cause a colision. The driver is highly likely to cause a (potentially fatal) collision if not going slow enough around blind bends.

Avatar
muhasib replied to wycombewheeler | 10 months ago
1 like

The 'disrespectful' motorist was driving an Astra which has only been available as an electric and hybrid since June 2023 so wouldn't have been a silent vehicle if you believe that to be a possible factor in the incident.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to wycombewheeler | 9 months ago
0 likes

wycombewheeler wrote:

hawkinspeter wrote:

how would that lead to a collision if the driver was behind the cyclist?

Indeed, but if the statement above is accurate and the cyclist was doing 15 and the driver 18. then how was there a collission sufficient to injure the cylists with a speed differential of only 3 miles an hour?

My interpretation is that both the cyclists and the driver approached the same bend at a similar speed from opposite directions. So both were approaching the same bend at a similar speed and equally unaware of what was approaching from the other side. The lead cyclist saw the car (as as they flashed past each other) and then heard it collide the rear cyclist. the car did not approach from behind but it was behind the witness at the point of impact.

Now we can argue that maybe the cyclists can go faster round these bends as they only need half the road, so can pass oncoming cyclists without issue. But that's crazy as the vehicle coming the other way is most likely to be filling the space. I wonder if it was a electric car that the cyclists dodn't appear to hear it approaching.

I agree - it sounds like they were going in opposite directions.

Avatar
Daveyraveygravey | 10 months ago
4 likes

So she's got off with no punishment?  Have I read this right?  Whether she meant to or not, she's killed someone.

Avatar
Brauchsel replied to Daveyraveygravey | 10 months ago
5 likes

Coroners' inquests are to establish the circumstances of a death, not to determine anyone's guilt or otherwise. 

I don't know why criminal charges were dropped, nor why if she's not facing any she was legally advised not to answer questions.

Absolutely not defending her actions which led to her killing him: I'd very much like to see the law operate a presumption that the more powerful road user is culpable. Just pointing out that it's not the coroner's function to decide on guilt or innocence. 

[EDITED because I'd not read it properly]

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Brauchsel | 10 months ago
8 likes

Brauchsel wrote:

I don't know why criminal charges were dropped, nor why if she's not facing any she was legally advised not to answer questions.

I would assume that having dodged criminal prosecution (how, in God's name?) she was advised not to answer any questions in case her answers could be used against her in a compensation claim or private prosecution.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Daveyraveygravey | 10 months ago
2 likes

Daveyraveygravey wrote:

So she's got off with no punishment?  Have I read this right?  Whether she meant to or not, she's killed someone.

"Innocently killed" though...

I think "draining the drama" here could be a useful way forward.  In the UK the focus is almost solely on legal responsibility - and that of the road users (rather than e.g. designers).  So currently* we're searching for either "there was a bad apple" or "it was one of those one-off tragic accidents".

I favour a more "health and safety" approach - which is a red flag to some ("people will get away with murder!")  However in current UK practice lots of people kill someone on the roads and neither face punishment (or even charges) nor does anything happen to improve safety either!

In NL there can be a criminal investigation but they also investigate if there is something about the road / the environment or even the rules which could be changed to prevent this recurring.

* Yes there are coroner's "reports to prevent future deaths" but the only legal force they have is to compel someone to answer a question - not actually do anything constructive.

Avatar
PeteZahad | 10 months ago
6 likes

Thank god she didn't pirate a movie and only killed someone ... WTF

Avatar
ChrisB200SX | 10 months ago
10 likes

She said she was driving at a speed suitable to the conditions, that is clearly not true otherwise she would not have killed a vulnerable road user, she would instead have been able to stop within the distance she could see to be clear!

To clarify, the road is narrow, so she was effectively going round a blind bend with some of her vehicle across the other half of the road and too fast to be able to stop if someone was coming the other way on their own half of the road.

How The Actual F*ck is she not being prosecuted for killing someone?!

Pages

Latest Comments