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Driver 'unaware' of hitting cyclist lying in Shropshire road

Bridgnorth | News | Published:

An electrician denied he had been driving too fast or was distracted in the moments before he allegedly drove over a cyclist lying flat out on a Shropshire road who later died.

Russell Davies admitted he did not see John Edmund Searle or his bicycle in the road on the B4368 between Craven Arms and Bridgnorth – but insisted in the dock he still did not know whether he had driven over him or not.

The 54-year-old said he felt a huge "jolt" as he drove over "something" in the road – but was adamant to this day he still could not say what it was.

He said he turned round and returned to the scene minutes later because he feared tools might have fallen off his van – only to find "carnage" as cyclist Mr Searle lay face down in the road with his bicycle close by.

He denied he was driving carelessly by going too quickly or not paying attention.

Mr Searle, a 59-year-old teaching assistant, died on October 17, 2012.

Prosecutors say his bike clipped the wing mirror of a car driven by Pamela Willocks before being hit by the van driven by Davies.

Davies, 54, of Burway Road, Church Stretton, and Willocks, 50, of Watling Street South, Church Stretton, both deny causing the death of Mr Searle by careless driving.

Prosecutor Simon Davis, cross-examining Davies at Shrewsbury Crown Court yesterday, said: "This wasn't any old bump was it? It was quite substantial?"

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Davies replied: "I said to the officer at the time I thought it was a drain cover. I don't know what else you want me to say."

The prosecutor probed: "The jolt you felt was Mr Searle's body, wasn't it?"

"No, I don't know," Davies replied.

Mr Davis then asked him: "How can you dispute it was Mr Searle's body?"

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"I can't," Davies said. "I didn't know what it was so I don't know."

As part of re-examination by his solicitor, Miss Kim Halsall, Davies reiterated denials to claims he had been driving too quickly or was distracted. Pressed on claims he should have been driving slower due to dazzling sunlight, he said: "I thought I was driving at a safe speed for those conditions, I would have been driving slower otherwise."

Miss Halsall asked him: "Can you think of any reason why you didn't see him (Mr Searle)?"

"I didn't see him, that's all I can say," Mr Davies replied.

"I honestly don't know why, I couldn't even make a guess."

Judge Mark Eades was expected to start summing up the case today, with the jury due to be sent out to consider its verdict on Monday. The trial continues.

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