British Cycling has criticised the verdict in the case of Petre Beiu, the tipper lorry driver who ran over The Times’ journalist Mary Bowers in November 2011.
Beiu was today cleared of dangerous driving, fined £2,700 and banned from driving for eight months, despite admitting to not paying enough attention at the time of the incident.
Jurors dismissed the charge of dangerous driving but found Beiu guilty of the far lesser charge of careless driving.
Over a year on from the incident, victim Mary Bowers has suffered brain damage among other serious injuries and is likely to require lifelong round-the-clock care. Ms Bowers’ case was the catalyst for The Time’s Cities Fit for Cycling Campaign, which has recently reached its 12 month milestone.
Martin Gibbs, British Cycling Policy and Legal Affairs Director, said: “Once again the justice system has failed us. The HGV driver was on a phone call, said he didn’t look properly and the evidence is clear that Mary was visible for a long time.
“It seems to me that there was no other sensible conclusion than that his driving was dangerous, not careless. These failures send completely the wrong message about how we expect people to behave on our roads.”
The court heard that Mr Beiu had been in a phone conversion on hands-free at the time of the incident. Beiu was also accused of failing to use his mirrors properly, which would have meant he would have seen Ms Bowers, who was stationary on her bicycle in the advance stop box ahead of his lorry.
It was reported that the tipper lorry driver, who had previously admitted to a number of tacograph offences was unaware of what was happening and had to be alerted by passers-by, failing to apply his handbrake as he got out of the vehicle, resulting in the vehicle rolling forward a further 1.5 metres.