Jury considers verdict for driver accused of causing cyclist death by careless driving

A jury at Reading Crown Court has been sent out to decide whether a 54-year-old van driver caused a cyclist’s death by careless driving.

Jeremiah O’Shea, of Forest Road, Ascot, hit Fred Dowling, 52, after his van collided with him on the morning of Thursday, January 5, 2017.

Mr Dowling, 52, from Wokingham, was cycling in Winkfield Road, Windsor, when he was struck. O’Shea told his defence QC Alice Jarrett the road was very dark at the time of the incident. He described how he glanced down to check his reading glasses were still on a shelf in the car.

He said: “After I looked back up, maybe a second, I saw my headlight beam pick up a dark shape which was Mr Dowling. To my horror and terror I couldn’t do anything but hit my brakes.”

O’Shea described letting out an involuntarily scream but said he had both hands on the steering wheel as he braked firmly.

He told the court he got out and called an ambulance, checked Mr Dowling for a pulse but couldn’t find one, and felt ‘sick’.

Prosecutor Rossano Scamardella said several motorists who had previously given evidence overtook Mr Dowling safely. The court heard Mr Dowling was wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket and helmet and his bike had multiple front and rear lights.

Yesterday (Thursday), the court heard evidence from Andrew Taylor, who had overtaken Mr Dowling earlier that morning. He said he had only spotted the cyclist when he was ‘two to three metres away’ and had to manoeuvre around him at the last moment.

He described Mr Dowling’s fluorescent jacket as ‘dirty’ and said there was a ‘narrow’ red light on the back of his bike.

Mr Scamardella suggested Mr Taylor had seen the cyclist at a greater distance and his reckoning was inaccurate as, if he had been travelling at 40mph, as Mr Taylor said he was, he would not have had a chance to manoeuvre around him so close behind.

On Tuesday, the court heard how O’Shea was found by police staring at Mr Dowling’s body as he received treatment from paramedics.

The cyclist was pronounced dead at Frimley Park Hospital.

When approached by police at the scene, O’Shea said: “I’ve killed him, haven’t I?”

Summing up yesterday, Mr Scamardella told the jury if they found O’Shea’s driving ‘fell below the standard required’ of safe road users, he ‘is guilty of this allegation’.

Ms Jarrett told the jury the drivers who overtook Mr Dowling safely were in traffic, but O’Shea and Mr Taylor, who had described not seeing the cyclist until very late, had been in no traffic when their incidents took place.

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