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Suspended sentence for tanker driver who killed cyclist when he pulled in too early

Court told that vehicle’s wing mirror had been knocked out of position before fatal crash in Kent meaning driver had no nearside view

A tanker driver who killed a cyclist in Kent after he pulled in too early as he overtook him has been handed a suspended sentence.

David Adlam, aged 62 and from Southborough, was pulled beneath the wheels of the vehicle after driver Nicholas Gray, 59, was said to have “misjudged” the manoeuvre, reports Kent Online.

The fatal crash happened on the B2176 Penshurst Road between Bidborough and Penshurst on 17 July 2018.

The court was told that the wing mirror had been pushed out of alignment when Gray hit a hedge, meaning he drove for a mile and a half without a clear view of the nearside of the vehicle.

Patrick Dennis, prosecuting, said: “At around 6.30pm, David Adlam was cycling on the B2176 which is the Penshurst Road in Tonbridge.

“The defendant was driving an Isuzu NQR tanker lorry on the same road. There was a collision and Mr Adlam tragically died at the scene.

“At a point where the defendant believed he had passed the bicycle he pulled in. However, he had misjudged where the bicycle was.

“This caused the lorry to strike the bicycle and Mr Adlam was thrown beneath the wheels of the lorry and tragically killed.

“Pertinently, the lorry’s nearside wing mirror was bent inwards at the time of the collision, rendering it temporarily useless.

“It is the prosecution case that is why the defendant did not see Mr Adlam and pulled in too early.”

The victim, who was retired, was an experienced rider and a member of a cycling club, and had also taken cycling holidays in the Pyrenees.

“Mr Adlam was cycling quite safely and properly, nothing about his cycling is open to criticism,” Mr Dennis added.

The prosecutor also noted that the brakes on the vehicle were defective, but said that had not been a factor in the crash.

In mitigation, John Dye, defending, said: “Tragedy is an overused word but what happened was a true tragedy. The defendant feels guilt and shame,” he added.

Mr Adlam’s daughter, Clare, said in a victim impact statement that her father had been her “confidante and best friend.”

She added: “He was reliable, supportive and always just a call away. Losing him in this way is like losing a part of myself.”

Judge Jeremy Donne QC, passed on his condolences to Mr Adlam’s family, and revealed that he had given up riding his road bike following a number of crashes.

“I hope it's clear that I am sorry for your loss,” he said. “I can assure you that I am terrified when I am out on my bike.

“And after my last accident I have stopped riding my road bike,” he added.

He also criticised the management of the firm Gray was driving for, saying that they had a “cavalier” attitude regarding vehicle safety following claims from staff that trying to discuss a problem with brakes to them was like “talking to a wall.”

Gray, from Fordcombe, near Tunbridge Wells, pleaded guilty to causing Mr Adlam’s death by  careless driving.

He was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and was placed under a three-month curfew, as well as being ordered to pay costs of £1,000 and given a 15-month ban from driving.

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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