Case Study

Family of killed cyclist, Kenny Lush, receive highest ever sum of damages for a fatal injury claim through CTC's solicitors Slater & Gordon (May 2009)

Kenneth Lush, 47, of Ware, died when he was hit while cycling on the A414 between Hatfield and Hertford in May 2012. Debra Hearn (Nee Kelly), 38, of Tubbs Croft, Welwyn Garden City, who is due to give birth in six weeks’ time, was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court.

Hearn was given a 24 week jail sentence, suspended for 2 years, and was also ordered to complete 240 hours unpaid work. Hearn was also banned from driving for 18 months, must take an extended test and pay £2,500 costs.

The court heard Kelly struck the businessman as he cycled home from work, sending him flying into the carriageway and his bike into the bushes.

Hearn’s car overturned on the dual carriageway and ended up on the central reservation. She left the scene after getting a lift from a stranger in a van, but gave herself up to the police seven hours later, the court heard.

Hearn told the officers she had bumped her head in the accident and was hysterical. She said she had suffered panic attacks in the past.

Defence barrister Liam Walker said there was no evidence to suggest Hearn had left the scene to avoid detection. He said she had told a probation officer that she had “ruined the Lush family’s lives forever”.

Judge Andrew Bright QC said: “Nothing I can say or any sentence I can pass will ever begin to reflect the ruin you have inflicted on the Lush family by your careless driving behind the wheel of your motor car.

“You are expecting a baby in a few weeks. If I send you to prison there is every chance you would give birth in the mother and baby unit at Holloway Prison.

“To inflict that indignity on an innocent baby is not in the public interest, though you richly deserve to go to prison.”

Mr Lush was riding along the eastbound carriageway of the A414 between Hatfield and Hertford and was wearing a yellow luminous high visibility jacket with his rear red light illuminated when he was hit.

Another driver Julie Marquis passed Mr Lush in her Astra. She told the police she saw his bright light in the carriageway and was able to overtake leaving plenty of room.

She said she was 10 car lengths ahead of Hearn’s car when she saw it ‘wobble’ to the right and left. Miss Marquis said she believed she was travelling at 65 miles per hour and thought the Fiesta was gaining on her.

Miss Scott-Lynch said that at the time of the impact it was agreed by experts that Hearn was not travelling faster than 70 miles per hour.

When questioned, Mrs Hearn said she had been at a friend’s child’s party and had drunk one large glass of wine. When she was breath-tested at the station seven hours after the accident she gave a negative alcohol reading.

The judge said the only sentence he could pass was a custodial one with guidelines indicating the appropriate term of 24 weeks for a guilty plea.

  • UPDATE (03/07/13)
    Lawyers Slater & Gordon pursued a civil claim against the motorist who killed 47-year-old Kenny Lush, of Fairway, in May 2009, and his family have won an undisclosed sum.

CTC and Slater & Gordon have worked with the family to pursue damages from Hearn’s insurers.

CTC chief executive Gordon Seabright says “There are no winners in this tragic story, but CTC are pleased that our partners at Slater & Gordon Lawyers have been able to secure this settlement for the family of Kenny Lush.

“Our work to win justice for cyclists in the face of scandalous sentencing has never been so important as now.”

Slater & Gordon lawyer Liz Dux said: “I hope the significant settlement brings some sort of closure for the family and allows them to have some security for the future but nothing can bring Kenny back.

“Through representing the family since Kenny’s tragic death, I have got to know them very well.
“I have seen what a tremendous presence he was to the business and how hard it has been for them to keep the family firm going.

“The most upsetting aspect of this case were the actions of the motorist. The family just cannot reconcile their suffering to her lenient sentence.

“As a society we have still got the balance all wrong.

“Hopefully this settlement will go some small way towards lessening the pain for the family.”

CTC's view: 

The fact that Miss Kelly admitted to having been drinking prior to the incident should have been considered as an aggravating factor by the judge during sentencing.

It would appear from reports that Miss Kelly was not charged with leaving the scene of an accident, which she should have been.

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