Case Study

Driver found not guilty of causing Joe Wilkins' death by dangerous driving - sentenced to community order for causing death by careless driving

Incident date: 
Thu, 24 May 2012

A 29-year-old male driver has been arrested after the 39-year-old part-time firefighter was killed on Eaton Road in Appleton, Oxfordshire.

According to the BBC the cyclist was hit by a Black Ford Focus at around 2100 on the 24th May 2012. The driver has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

  • UPDATE 1/11/12

The driver of the car will appear at Oxford Crown Court on 5th November.

  • UPDATE 06/08/13

Paul Brown has admitted causing death by careless driving but denies the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Oxford Crown Court heard that Joe Wilkins was cycling a circular local bike route from Appleton to Stanton Harcourt when the collision occurred.

The prosecution stated that they believed Mr Brown was eating a sandwich at the time of the collision and that this action could have caused the collision. The lock worker told police the sandwich was in his left hand as he was in fifth gear driving at 55 to 60mph and did not expect to change. But in a statement read at Oxford Crown Court yesterday he said: “I don’t consider it a distraction or anything like that. I’m not there with a three-course meal. I don’t go stupid with it.”

A statement was read to the court by NHS manager Katherine Riddle, who was a passenger in a car and saw the aftermath of the crash. It said: “We saw a car with the hazard lights on, and a man was walking around concerned so we stopped. I saw some items in the road and realised one was a water bottle.

“He said “I think we’ve hit a cyclist, we can’t find him.”

“So we started looking and found the cyclist lying in a grass verge. It was full of bristles. He was lying on his back but his head was turned to the side, it looked like he was asleep. My immediate impression was that he was dead. He was not breathing and there was no pulse.

The witnesses said paramedics arrived and gave CPR but stopped after a short period of time.

Mr Brown claimed he had his car lights on at the time of the crash (9:05pm) but stated that the cyclist did not have lights on his bike.

Forensic collision investigator PC James Henderson told jurors visibility was “good” and tests showed the bike would have been first seen from 174 metres, giving 6.5 seconds reaction time. The pedals were not fitted with amber reflective strips as legally required after sunset,
but police vehicle examiner Phil Balderstone said the bike’s light had probably been on at the time of the crash but was faulty because it had been damaged. He could not be sure if the damage was caused before or after the crash.

The trial continues.

  • UPDATE (09/08/13)

Brown has been found not guilty of causing Joe Wilkins’ death by dangerous driving. He was unanimously cleared by the jury at Oxford Crown Court after a four-day trial.

Brown is due to be sentenced at the court on September 3rd.

  • UPDATE (03/09/13)

Paul Brown has been sentenced to 240 hours community service and a 1-year driving ban.

In a statement read out in court, Mr Wilkins’ partner Nicci Saunders said: “Some days I find it hard to breathe with the pain that is in my heart.

“It feels like I have a huge weight on my chest and an emptiness that can’t be filled.”

The couple, who had been together for seven years, had two young children, aged two and five.

She added: “Both of them now worry that if I go away, I will also leave them one day.”

  • UPDATE (04/09/13)

Miss Saunders, Joe Wilkins’ partner, has called on the government to impose longer driving bans and tougher sentences for drivers who cause death by dangerous driving.

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