Lorry driver found guilty of causing cyclist's death in Wolverhampton crash

A lorry driver who had cocaine in his system has been found guilty of causing the death of a cyclist in Wolverhampton.

Crash victim Paul Thompson was aged 50 when he died
Crash victim Paul Thompson was aged 50 when he died

Jurors reached a unanimous verdict in convicting Joseph Large, 30, of causing the death of 50-year-old Paul Thompson by careless driving.

Mr Thompson, from Bilston, was crushed to death after being hit by the 32-ton refuse lorry Large was driving near East Park on November 26 last year.

Mr Thompson was pronounced dead at the scene after the collision happened on Culwick Street, at its junction with Hickman Avenue, just before 2.30pm.

His brother Stephen, 46, paid tribute to him as a loving uncle and a "warm" character who would "talk your ears off" once people got to know him.

Mr Thompson was 12 weeks away from early retirement before the crash and had motorcycle trips planned to Scotland and Europe.

The trial at Stafford Crown Court heard Large, of Mount Road, Wolverhampton, had cocaine in his system when the fatal crash happened.

Large pulled out of Hickman Avenue onto Culwick Street when Mr Thompson, who had right-of-way, cycled past the junction and was hit. He suffered serious head, spinal, chest and abdominal injuries.

Sunlight

Large told police he struggled to see as he approached the junction due to bad sunlight.

Pc Amy Carrington, who interviewed Large after the crash, said in a statement: "The defendant said he was coming from work and had pulled out of the junction and was squinting from the sunlight. He had not seen the cyclist because of this.

"The defendant stated he saw a shadow which caused him to brake. This is when he realised he had collided with a cyclist."

Prosecutors argued Large failed to adequately stop at the junction and did not use his mirrors properly.

The court heard Large had eight seconds to spot Mr Thompson, who was wearing a bright fluorescent yellow helmet and backpack.

John O'Higgins, prosecuting, said: "The collision was caused because Mr Large failed to give way.

"An expert reconstruction has confirmed Mr Thompson was there to be seen for eight seconds before the collision. Apparently Mr Large told police, during an interview, that he stopped.

"He didn't - but turned into the road without stopping. It is that which caused the collision with Mr Thompson.

"The prosecution says he should have adequately looked around his mirrors if he couldn't see properly.

"He shouldn't have pulled out without taking a proper look to his left - particularly if the sun was preventing him from seeing clearly."

Cocaine

A paramedic who was first on the scene told the court the sun was particularly bright that day. At the roadside, Large tested positive for 158 micrograms of cocaine in his blood.

Police said Large - who was working for SB Waste Management & Recycling Ltd at the time - was remorseful as he gave a statement at the roadside.

Large was reduced to tears in the dock as the victim's brother, also from Bilston, read out a statement.

"This tragedy has broken us all," Mr Thompson said.

"My brother Paul had all his life in front of him. He was being made redundant. He worked out his finances.

"He had bought a new bike for his 50th birthday and and made plans to go to Scotland and Europe. But his dreams will unfortunately never be realised."

He added: "There was a time after the crash when I felt sorry for the driver and this was a tragic accident which the driver had to live with for the rest of his life.

"But when I found out further details, this turned to anger. The selfish behaviour of this driver has ruined so many lives."

Large was granted bail ahead of being sentenced on a date yet to be fixed.

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