|Obviously these warnings do very little|
Cyclist's death: driver guilty
02 Jun, 2011 06:41 AMA Canberra driver had an obligation to avoid a collision with a cyclist that led to the latter's death, an ACT magistrate found yesterday. The Fadden man was found guilty of failing to keep an adequate lookout for the cyclist, leading to the collision which caused the rider's death last year.
James Keenan, 61, died in hospital last February after spending a fortnight in intensive care with head injuries after the crash on Sternberg Crescent in Wanniassa.( He was wearing a bicycle helmet)
The cyclist fell to the road after colliding with the side of a turning Mitsubishi Evolution driven by Rhys Wilkins, who pleaded not guilty to negligent driving causing Mr Keenan's death.
Both the prosecution and Wilkins' lawyer argued the other party had a duty of care at the time of the fateful incident at the intersection of Sternberg Crescent and Ashley Drive.
Defence lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith argued the cyclist should have given way to the turning car and slowed down approaching the intersection.
But the prosecution submitted the 36-year-old driver should have taken more care while overtaking the cyclist and turning the corner.
Magistrate Lorraine Walker ultimately found Wilkins, having seen and overtaken the cyclist, had an obligation to keep a watchful eye out for the other party.
The defendant was suspended from holding a driver's licence at the time.
The ACT Magistrates Court heard Wilkins, who was not under the influence of alcohol and was not alleged to have been speeding, was travelling west on Sternberg Crescent on January 29.
The defendant told the court he was on his way to the shops and spotted Mr Keenan riding his bike close to the curb towards the Ashley Drive intersection.
View Large Map
Wilkins said he moved to overtake the bicycle, indicated, slowed and turned left on to Ashley Drive.
At some point before turning the corner he lost sight of Mr Keenan.
''I felt something, I looked in my rear-view mirror, and I saw a guy tumbling over the road,'' he told Ms Walker at an earlier hearing.
But the magistrate noted Wilkins never mentioned looking behind him, in his rear-view mirror or over his left shoulder as he prepared to negotiate the turn.
She said it was open to infer, on the evidence before her, the cyclist was travelling close behind the overtaking car when Wilkins took the corner. She was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt the driver failed to keep a lookout and fell below the duty of care expected of a prudent driver.
The defendant is expected to appeal. Wilkins is on strict bail conditions, which include banning him from driving a vehicle.
He is due back in court for a sentencing hearing in August.
Do we need to change some of our Laws?