E-bike rider weeps as he is cleared of death by careless driving
Thomas Hanlon, 32, was found not guilty at the Old Bailey after the jury deliberated for more than an hour.
An electric bicycle rider wept in the dock as he was cleared of killing a pedestrian by careless driving in what is believed to be the first prosecution of its kind.
Bricklayer Thomas Hanlon, 32, was on his way home from work and going more than 10mph over the 20mph speed limit in Dalston, east London, before he knocked down Sakine Cihan on August 28 2018, the Old Bailey heard.
Ms Cihan, 56, died in hospital the next day as a result of a “catastrophic” head injury.
It is believed to be the first death of a pedestrian after a collision with an e-bike in the UK.
Mr Hanlon, of Queen’s Drive, east London, denied causing death by careless driving and driving while uninsured and unlicensed.
An Old Bailey jury deliberated for over an hour on Monday to find him not guilty of all charges, including an alternative charge of careless driving.
Mr Hanlon held his head in his hands and sobbed as the foreman of the jury announced the verdicts.
The court had heard how Mr Hanlon was travelling around 30mph but had slowed down before he crashed into the pedestrian who had suddenly walked into Kingsland High Street.
Ms Cihan had tried to cross the road despite the lights being green, jurors were told.
One witness recalled seeing Mr Hanlon and thinking “Jesus that’s fast” just before he “suddenly saw arms and legs everywhere, flying in the air”.
Another said in a statement read to court that heads collided before the rider got up “dazed and confused”, leaving the pedestrian motionless on the road.
In a police interview, Mr Hanlon admitted leaving the scene but said he had no time to swerve as Ms Cihan had crossed the road unexpectedly.
He said: “She rushed out in front of me to cross and she didn’t even look at me.”
The court heard it was not possible to tell from CCTV footage whether Ms Cihan had looked both ways before stepping off the curb.
Ms Cihan had walked 2.8 metres into the road in 1.4 seconds to the point of collision, jurors were told.
Summing up the evidence, Judge Mark Dennis QC told jurors: “It is not possible to tell whether she looked to her right or left when doing so – as one should.
“Had she looked to her right she would have seen the defendant 16.5 metres away in the middle of the oncoming lane.
“It may be she assumed the lane was clear because of the absence of any traffic passing from her right to left.
“As it happened there was some traffic passing from her left to right in the far lane.
“It is, you may think, entirely possible that she was distracted by seeing a gap across the road and did not check to her right.”
The prosecution had asserted that even though the lights were green, the speed Hanlon was travelling at amounted to driving without due care and attention.
Prosecutor Nathan Rasiah said that Mr Hanlon’s bike used a battery rather than an engine and was classed as a motorcycle rather than an electrically-assisted pedal cycle because it could travel at more than the legal 15.5mph limit.
Mr Rasiah said: “The vehicle that Mr Hanlon was riding was fitted with a motor that could propel the vehicle at a much greater speed.
“In short, the prosecution case against him was that he was driving without due care and attention and that carelessness was a cause of the collision and the death of Ms Cihan.”
Mr Hanlon, who declined to give evidence, accepted he did not have a licence or insurance but disputed there had been a fault in the driving which contributed in a more than a minimal way to the death.
Cycling UK campaigns manager Keir Gallagher said: “Every death on a road is a tragedy. We would like to extend our sympathies to the families of all those involved.
“The judge made it clear in this case that legally the vehicle being driven was a motorcycle.
“Road legal e-bikes offer huge potential to helping people get fit and active and could potentially offer a revolution in mobility, especially for older people, those who feel less able to cycle up hills and over long distances.”
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