Jury unanimously acquits Sophia Dower’s client of causing death by dangerous driving
On 10 May 2020, JB collided his Porsche into the rear of AJ’s pedal cycle causing him fatal injuries on the A168 in north Yorkshire. The case against JB was circumstantial in that there were no eyewitnesses to the collision, nor any CCTV or dashcam footage. It was agreed that the cycle was clearly visible for over 500m in advance and there were no external factors that could have contributed to the collision, such as poor road conditions or mechanical defects. The prosecution alleged that JB simply failed to see the cycle because he was distracted by posting an Instagram story on his mobile phone at the time of the collision. In addition, the prosecution relied heavily on bad character evidence which included the fact that JB tested positive for cocaine at the roadside (albeit under the legal limit), that there were messages confirming JB was hungover and tired from a party the evening before which was in breach of lockdown rules and that JB had previously been reported for driving whilst not in proper control of a vehicle. Significantly, JB lied about his use of cocaine in that he suggested to police that it could only have been in his system after kissing his girlfriend in the days prior to the collision.
In his defence, JB maintained that he was not distracted by his mobile phone at the time of the collision, that the collision resulted from the cyclist suddenly veering into his path which gave him insufficient time to react and that he was in no way impaired from his conduct the evening before.
The trial heard before York Crown Court focussed on expert evidence in relation to forensic collision investigation, mobile phone and Garmin data analysis and toxicology. After careful cross-examination and scrutiny of the expert evidence, particularly in relation to the mobile phone and the cyclist’s Garmin route data, Sophia was able to establish that there was at least a 20 second window where there was no active phone use prior to the time of the collision, that the Garmin GPS data revealed the possibility of a lateral movement of the cyclist which may have been at time of impact, and that this lateral movement would have given JB insufficient time to react based on standard perception response times. She also submitted in JB’s defence that the prosecution had chosen to adduce the bad character evidence as a distraction tactic due to the weaknesses in their own case in respect of the collision itself.
The jury unanimously acquitted JB of causing death by dangerous driving in less than 2 hours.