Case Study

Lorry driver arrested after cyclist dies in London crash

Incident date: 
Mon, 15 Jul 2013

The crash happened outside Holborn Underground station in High Holborn at about 09:25 BST, the Metropolitan Police said.

The male cyclist, Alan Neve, believed to be in his 40s, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the tipper lorry, a 51-year-old man, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving and is in police custody.

This is the third cyclist to be killed on London’s roads in three weeks, and the second to be killed by a lorry. London Cycling Campaign plan another #space4cycling protest ride on Tuesday 16 July at 6.30pm, starting at Russell Square.

  • UPDATE (24/06/14)

The lorry driver, Barry Meyer, 52, of Walthamstow, has been charged with causing the death of Alan Neve by careless driving.

He is also charged with driving without insurance and a licence offence for not holding the correct HGV licence.

Mr Meyer will appear on bail at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on 5 August.

  • UPDATE (04/08/14)

The lorry driver, Barry Meyer, has pleaded not guilty to causing Alan Neve’s death by careless driving.

Meyer, a tipper truck driver, appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on August 5th for a preliminary hearing.

He pleaded not guilty to all three charges, namely, causing death by careless driving, a licence offence and causing death while driving with no insurance.

Meyer was granted unconditional bail to appear at Blackfriars Crown Court on August 19.

  • UPDATE (20/08/14)

Meyer appeared at Blackfriars Crown Court on August 19th and was granted bail to return on October 7th.

The court set a trial date for April 7th 2015.

  • UPDATE (14/04/15)

Meyer admitted causing death by careless driving — after two years of denial — when Judge Daniel Worsley ruled his “bad character” as a driver could be put before a Blackfriars crown court jury.

CCTV footage from Meyer’s lorry and other vehicles showed how he drove through a red light in Procter Street and stopped the lorry in a yellow box junction in High Holborn, before advancing through heavy traffic on to Mr Neve.

Meyer had been following a colleague driving another tipper truck.

Meyer had previous convictions for driving while disqualified, uninsured and without the correct licence. Meyer’s view of Alan Neve was blocked by a toilet roll, a tub of sugar and a phone holder on his dashboard.

He had been banned from driving five times before and was not licensed to drive the tipper lorry that crushed Alan Neve.

Prosecutor Allison Hunter said Meyer’s previous convictions, included two bans for drink-driving, showed a “cavalier lack of respect for driving law and regulations”. Judge Worsley said Meyer had a “shocking driving history” and would inevitably be jailed on return to court on May 14.

Besides his past convictions for driving while drunk and disqualified, he had others for assault, criminal damage and drug possession.

  • UPDATE 15/05/15

Barry Meyer was sentenced on Thursday 14th May at Blackfriars Crown Court to three and a half years in prison. He was also disqualified from driving for ten years.

Judge Daniel Worsley told Meyer his offence was at the top end of the scale for death by careless driving, which carries a maximum sentence of five years. He reduced Meyer’s sentence from 48 to 42 months as a result of his guilty plea.

Judge Worsley said Meyer had caused “indescribable” harm to Mr Neve’s widow Penny Johnson, his teenage daughter Matilda and his family. A lorry driver who tried to help Mr Neve was so traumatised at the sight that he had a mental breakdown and lost his job.

The judge said “The degree of your carelessness was in my judgement about as high as the court may ever have to deal with for this offence for causing death by careless driving, as opposed to causing death by dangerous driving.

“You have a sustained history of driving offences showing wretched disregard for the safety of road users.”

The judge said Mr Neve, from Poplar, was “in every way the finest and most decent of men” as he heard in a harrowing victim impact statement from Ms Johnson how his death had left her totally devastated.

The lorry firm was not named in court. It is understood police have decided not to prosecute – which caused concern from the judge. “Heaven knows why the lorry owners let you drive that vehicle without checking and seeing whether you had a proper HGV licence,” he said.

Following the sentencing, Alan’s family said: “Alan was a kind, loving, optimistic, law-abiding man who had many years of life ahead of him. It was his great misfortune to travel the same route as Mr Meyer on Monday July 15 2013. Many people have been deeply affected by Alan’s death. We are relieved that there has finally been an end to this process and that there is some sense of justice for Alan. Alan will never ever be forgotten.”

  • UPDATE 01/06/15

The haulage company which employed Barry Meyer is now being investigated. The Traffic Commissioner’s office said: “The Traffic Commissioner for London and the South East of England, Nick Denton, has invited the operator licence held by Alan Drummond to a preliminary hearing next month, following receipt of information from Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police Service.

“The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to establish what areas of compliance will need to be examined at a formal public inquiry and what documents and other evidence the operator and his transport manager will need to bring to that inquiry.

“Following the preliminary hearing, the operator licence held by Alan Drummond will be called to a public inquiry.

“This inquiry will examine the findings of an investigation by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

“Due to ongoing proceedings, the Traffic Commissioner cannot make any further comment on this case.”

Traffic Commissioners are responsible for the licensing and regulation of those who operate heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches, and the registration of local bus services.

  • UPDATE (08/06/15)

The preliminary hearing was due to be held on 5th June but Alan Drummond did not attend.

The public inquiry will go ahead as planned on June 24th.

Traffic Commissioner, Nick Denton, has said that failure to attend will have an adverse impact on the company’s repute and on his decision when the inquiry concludes.

  • UPDATE (26/06/15)

Neither Alan Drummond nor Colin Drummond attended the public inquiry on June 24.

In a written statement the Traffic Commissioner explained that both transport managers had lost their good repute and both were disqualified with immediate effect and for an indefinite period of time.

Alan Drummond was disqualified from holding or obtaining any type of operator’s licence in any traffic area, or being the director of any company holding or obtaining such as licence.

Colin Drummond was disqualified from acting as a transport manager on any operator’s licence in any member state of the EU. Before he can act as a transport manager again he must appear before the Traffic Commissioner at a hearing in order to re-establish his repute.

The Commissioner went on to say in his written statement: ‘From the police evidence I have seen, which includes a transcript of an interview with Alan Drummond, I find that the operator wrongly took on trust Barry Meyer’s assurance that he possessed the correct driving entitlement and never bothered to check whether this was really so, even after Mr Meyer had “forgotten” to bring in his licence for checking, something which should have set off alarm bells. I find that, through their negligence, Alan and Colin Drummond allowed a person to drive a Heavy Goods Vehicle who should clearly not have been allowed to do so. The results were fatal.

Both Alan and Colin Drummond have serious questions to answer about what system for checking driver entitlement they were operating at the time of Mr Meyer’s employment and about why that system, if they had one, failed. Instead, they have sought to evade their responsibilities by refusing to speak to DVSA examiners and refusing to attend the preliminary hearing and public inquiry.

I note that the wish to surrender the licence (Alan Drummond) and the unbearable burden of other responsibilities (Colin Drummond) have both suddenly emerged in the last few weeks, after they received the call-up letters to the preliminary hearing and public inquiry. By contrast, they have had no apparent difficulty in continuing to operate over the past two years, since the fatality caused by Mr Meyer (and, indirectly, by their own failure to fulfil one of the most basic responsibilities of an operator or transport manager – to ensure that a driver of one of their HGVs was qualified to drive it). Four vehicles were operated by Mr Drummond right up to 6 May 2015, with the last vehicle being removed from the licence on 17 May 2015.

Because neither man has attended the public inquiry today, they have been unable to present any mitigating factors which might argue against revocation of the licence and the disqualification of its holder and transport manager.

My conclusion is that this licence must therefore be revoked and that the good repute of both Alan and Colin Drummond cannot survive such a basic failure to carry out their responsibilities as operator and transport manager and their refusal to be called to account.’

  • UPDATE (08/02/2016)

Having been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three and a half years on 14 May 2015, Barry Meyer appealed to the Court of Appeal against his sentence. On 2 February 2016 the Court of Appeal rejected his appeal. Further details over and above the failure of the appeal are not yet known.

CTC's view: 

Gordon Seabright, CTC Chief Executive, said: “Alongside the infrastructural improvements promised by the Mayor, Transport for London needs to change the way it deals with lorry traffic, and start restricting access to the largest vehicles during periods when cycle use is highest. Under current arrangements deliveries are banned at night, meaning lorries and cyclists are forced to share the space during peak commuting hours – a potentially lethal combination given the lack of good design in junctions for cyclists.”

The fact that Barry Meyer received a custodial sentence for causing death by careless driving marks this case out as particularly serious – most drivers convicted of causing death by careless driving do not get sent to prison. The majority of drivers that do get sent to prison are sent for less than two years. Meyer’s three and a half year sentence is long in comparison.

With a string of previous motoring convictions and five driving bans, it is a wonder why the judge didn’t use this opportunity to ban Meyer from driving for life.

Update 08/02.2016. It will be interesting to read the Appeal Court’s judgement and comments regarding Meyer’s sentence once available, but CTC welcome the decision tom refuse his appeal against sentence.

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