Shropshire Star

Two cleared of causing death of Shropshire cyclist by careless driving

Two people have been cleared of causing the death of a cyclist in Shropshire by careless driving.


Pamela Willocks, 50, and Russel Davies, 54, had been standing trial for the past two weeks at Shrewsbury Crown Court following the death of John Edmund Searle on October 17, 2012.

Mr Searle had fallen off his bike on the B4368 between Craven Arms and Bridgnorth after clipping the wing mirror of Mrs Willocks' red Kia, before then being fatally injured when he was hit by Mr Davies, driving a VW van, moments later. He was then hit by a silver Citroen, the court was told.

A blue Citroen later hit passer-by Gary Pitkin, breaking his leg, after he had stopped during a school run to help Mr Searle when he found him lying in the road.

The court had been told that low sunlight had been shining into the faces of drivers travelling east on the road that morning – a problem made worse by rain during the morning which increased the glare.

Mrs Willocks, of Watling Street South, Church Stretton, and Mr Davies, of Burway Road, Church Stretton, who had both denied charges of careless driving, were cleared by a jury which returned unanimous verdicts at Shrewsbury Crown Court yesterday.

Judge Robert Eades said: "This has been a very unusual case and it had a lot of permutations which made it from a lawyer's point of view very interesting but from a jury point of view very difficult."

During the trial Mr Davies, an electrician, had told the court he had felt a "huge jolt" while driving along the road and had returned to find the cyclist face down in the road. He said he still was not sure if he had hit Mr Searle or not.

Mr Davies rejected claims under cross-examination that he had been driving too quickly or had been distracted, and said he had been driving "at a safe speed for those conditions".

Constable Ian Edwards, a collision expert for West Mercia Police, said sunlight would have been shining directly into the eyes of drivers travelling eastbound on the road on the day cyclist Mr Searle was killed.

The court also heard how a black 4x4 Suzuki Jimny, which had over taken Mrs Willocks' car moments before the collision, could have affected Mr Searle's cycling. Mr Searle died at the scene of internal injuries despite efforts by the paramedics to resuscitate him.

The 59-year-old, of Newington Way, Craven Arms, worked part-time at Onny Primary School in nearby Onibury and had previously worked at St George's School in Clun.

A post mortem revealed Mr Searle had suffered "significant internal injuries entirely consistent with the injuries being sustained in a road traffic accident".

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