Case Study

Cyclist dies on A66 near Eaglescliffe - lorry driver charged in connection with death (21/05/13)

The man in his 60s was pronounced dead at the scene following a collision involving a lorry, at about 18:25 BST on Tuesday 21st May, Cleveland Police said.

A 49-year-old man, the driver of the lorry involved, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

Police are appealing for witnesses.

  • UPDATE (03/10/13)

The 61-year-old cyclist was Sean Ruff from Cleadon village near Sunderland.

The 50-year-old driver, Joseph Reed, has been charged with causing death by careless driving.

Mr Ruff was cycling along the A66 westbound near to the Eaglescliffe slip road when he was involved in a collision with a delivery wagon.

Mr Ruff was pronounced dead at the scene.

His family, in paying tribute to him said ‘he was an avid cyclist and always wore the correct cycling safety equipment and clothing. He died doing something he loved and will be sorely missed.’

The driver of the Argos delivery wagon will appear at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday October 16th.

  • UPDATE (22/10/13)

At the hearing at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on October 16th, prosecutor Lynne Roberts-Plowman told the bench that the case is suitable for trial only at crown court, because the possible sentence exceeds the powers of magistrates. John Turner, defending, agreed.

The defendant, Mr Reed, did not enter a plea.

Mr Reed will appear at Teesside Crown Court on October 30th.

  • UPDATE (01/11/13)

The charge was not put to Mr Reed during a short preliminary hearing at Teesside Crown Court yesterday.

Christopher Dorman O’Gowan, defending, said he would need to get an accident expert’s report before advising Reed about his plea.

Judge Crowson adjourned the case for a plea hearing on January 17.

The judge released Reed on unconditional bail.

  • UPDATE (20/01/14)

Reed admitted causing death by careless driving.

The case was adjourned until a sentencing hearing on February 18.

Reed was granted unconditional bail and banned from driving until sentencing.

Judge Howard Crowson told Reed: “Your guilty plea is at an early stage and you will get credit for that. It means there will not need to be a trial and that is important for everybody.

  • UPDATE (18/02/14)

A Road Justice campaigner attended the sentencing at Teesside Crown Court on February 18th. He reported that Joseph Reed was sentenced to a nine month custodial sentence (reduced to six months because of the early plea) suspended for two years. He was also banned from driving for two and a half years.

The accident investigation found that Mr Ruff was 0.4m to the right of the continuous white
line at the edge of the carriageway when he was hit from behind. At the time he was wearing
a helmet and hi-viz jacket. His lights were on and he would have been visible to the driver for
several seconds. The judge stated that ‘in no way was any blame attached to him’.

The judge also commented that as a cyclist, Mr Ruff was a vulnerable road user and it is incumbent upon the driver to take account of that.

The driver claimed that his option to pull out when seeing Mr Ruff was limited by vehicles in the
outside lane. Eyewitnesses contradicted this.

CTC's view: 

Despite this case being transferred to the crown court for sentencing, the custodial sentence imposed was no tougher than the maximum sentence a magistrate could impose, due to it being cut by a third following the guilty plea. A two and a half year ban is far too minor a penalty for causing the death of another person.

What’s more, the jury was never even given the opportunity to consider whether the driving was dangerous rather than careless.

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