Driver speeding before head on collision which killed cyclist in Norwich cannot be prosecuted
PUBLISHED: 19:06 04 August 2017 | UPDATED: 13:52 05 August 2017
A driver found to be speeding on Newmarket Road before a head-on collision which killed a cyclist cannot be prosecuted because the correct signage was not in place, an inquest has heard.
Cyclist Cyril Harrison, 67, died in hospital nearly three months after being struck by a red Ford Fiesta on a Newmarket Road access road close to the junction with Roundhouse Way in Cringleford, on November 9, 2015.
He suffered traumatic spinal and chest injuries and died due to respiratory failure, Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard on Friday.
Craig Hawkes, the driver of the Ford, refused to comment in court when presented with evidence he had been driving at around 45mph in the 30mph limit.
CCTV also showed Mr Harrison had been cycling outside of the mandatory contraflow cycle lane, heading into one-way traffic.
One of the first at the scene was former police officer Steven Jones, who had two weeks left to retirement at the time.
“It is something that will haunt me forever,” he told the court.
“The first thing I noticed was a white light which flew through the air. What caught my attention was a light going from the sky down to the ground. It was followed by something in fluorescent clothing.
“I thought somebody had thrown a Guy Fawkes into the road - it was surreal.
“The cycle helmet had actively cut off his air supply so I removed the helmet and started chest compressions. In the space of minutes somebody identified herself as a doctor and together we kept him stable until paramedics arrived.”
Mr Harrison, of Eaton, was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where he died on January 25, 2016.
Forensic collision investigator, PC Paul McKay, said a site safety survey identified issues with the road which are due to be rectified as part of the City Cycle Ambition scheme.
“The contraflow system precludes any vehicle from travelling in the cycle lane, but with there being no enforcement for parking - any vehicle that did would force other vehicles into the cycle lane,” he said. “By saying it is a mandatory cycle lane we are forcing people to do something they should not be doing.
“A speed repeater sign was missing which presents issues in terms of any prosecution for speed. If the signage is incorrect it is a legal defence to the offence of speeding.
“Had Mr Hawkes been travelling at 30 when he began to react it is possible the injuries would not have been so severe or the collision might have been avoided.
“Had Mr Harrison remained in the cycle lane it is likely the collision would not have occurred.”
Mr Hawkes said the collision happened “in a matter of seconds”.
“I saw a light in the distance and assumed it was a cyclist,” he said. “I could see his head was down towards the ground as if he was looking at his feet.
“I had no chance to avoid him. I hit the brake hard and he hit the front of my vehicle and went up over the bonnet.”
In conclusion, area coroner Yvonne Blake said the road currently posed a “significant risk” to cyclists and she would be writing informally to Norfolk County Council to provide further details of the programme of work.