Case Study

Two men charged with causing the death of a cyclist in Sunderland by careless driving

Incident date: 
Fri, 26 Oct 2012

Edward Peverley and Michael Elton have both been charged with causing death by careless driving.

It is alleged both men hit cyclist Stan Coates as he was riding along Burdon Lane in Sunderland.

The 55-year-old, from Sunderland, was airlifted to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, but died from his injuries.

They appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court this week.

Lee Poppett, prosecuting, said the men, who were driving separate cars and are not believed to know each other, were arrested after Mr Coates’s death on October 26 last year.

Elton, 24, of Rothbury Road, Newton Hall, entered a not guilty plea.

Peverley, 20, of Hetton Moor Farm in Easington Lane, did not enter a plea.

The case was sent to Newcastle Crown Court.

The first hearing will take place on August 1.

Both men were granted unconditional bail in the meantime.

A trial was listed for December 16th.

Mr Coates was involved in an initial collision and was exchanging details with the driver of a Vauxhall Corsa when he was struck by another car, also a Vauxhall Corsa, in a collision that killed him.

  • UPDATE (10/10/14)

The trial has begun at Newcastle Crown Court.

The court heard that Stan Coates was injured but alive and conscious after he was hit by Michael Elton’s black Corsa motor on Burdon Lane in Sunderland on October 26th 2012.

The 55 year old, from West Herrington, was able to speak to the emergency services about his sore wrist and knee as he sat at the roadside waiting for an ambulance.

Within minutes of Coates being struck the first time by Elton’s car, he was hit by a second car being driven by Peverley, and dragged along the road.

Coates died in hospital the following morning from multiple fractures and injuries.

Prosecutors claim both drivers were “blinded” by the sun when they hit Coates and had not taken appropriate steps to make driving in such conditions safe.

Prosecutor Michael Hodson said: “The crown’s case is they should have slowed down, far below the speed they continued to travel at, you may think to a crawl, with hazard lights on.

“What they should not have done was what both did.”

The court heard accident investigators estimate Elton may have been travelling at up to 50mph and Peverley at less than 40mph.

Both drivers stopped at the scene when they realised they had had been in collisions.

The court heard that despite Mr Coates surviving the first collision, prosecutors say both drivers are to blame for his death.

Both drivers deny causing death by careless driving.

  • UPDATE (24/1014)

Both drivers have been cleared of causing death by careless driving.

Elton was found guilty of the lesser alternative offence of careless driving.

Speaking on behalf of Mr Coates’ family, Philip Thompson, personal injury specialist at Sunderland firm Thompson and Co solicitors, said: “The Coates family remains understandably devastated by the events of October 26 2012.

“The ongoing criminal case has meant the family has had to wait for two years to receive any information about how Mr Coates died.

“However, the Coates family are pleased to have had the opportunity to build a picture of the events that led to Mr Coates’ death and to fully understand what happened that day.

“Furthermore, Mrs Coats was not previously aware that two nurses had been passing at the time of the incident, and she is grateful for the relative comfort they were able to give her husband in his final moments.

“The family was also grateful to discover that the incident did not occur because of anything Mr Coates did – he was a completely blameless victim.

“Although nothing can bring Mr Coates back, we have been investigating the possibility of a civil claim for compensation.”

  • UPDATE (30/10/14)

Peverley, 21, was cleared of careless driving but Elton, 26, was found guilty or careless driving.

Judge Paul Sloan QC ordered Elton to pay £400 fine, £600 costs and said his licence must be endorsed with five points.

Judge Sloan told him: “The Highway Code makes clear at the very least you should have slowed, you should have braked at the moment you were dazzled by the sun but you didn’t, you carried on as before.

“The jury no doubt concluded on the evidence that the collision would or may have occurred in any event, had you slowed to an appropriate speed.

“You are not to be sentenced for causing death by careless driving, that plays no part in the sentence I impose on you.”

CTC's view: 

This is yet another case where an innocent person has been killed on the roads yet apparently no one is to blame for his death. As a result, Stan Coates will not be recorded as a victim of road crime in official criminal justice statistics.

We do not know why Peverley wasn’t also charged with the alternative ‘careless driving’ charge, as his driving was arguably worse than Elton’s seeing as he didn’t drop his speed as much and failed to see a much larger hazard (the bicycle, cyclist and car).

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