Case Study

Pensioner sentenced over cyclist's death

Incident date: 
Sun, 18 Nov 2012

A pensioner has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving over the death of a 74-year-old cyclist.

The cyclist, who has not yet been named, was in collision with a blue Renault Espace near Fox Hill Farm on Darlington Back Lane in Stockton, Teesside, on Friday afternoon.

A Cleveland Police spokesman said both the cyclist and the car were heading east towards Stockton from Sadberge when the incident happened.

No-one else was hurt.

The spokesman said: “A 73-year-old car driver had been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and has been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

“Police would like to speak to anyone who was in the area at the time and who may have seen the cyclist before the accident.”

  • UPDATE (20/02/13)

The 74-year old driver, John Plummer, has denied a charge of causing death by dangerous driving but admitted causing death by careless driving at Teeside Crown Court on February 19th. The plea was accepted by the prosecution.

Plummer is due to be sentenced on March 11 and the judge requested a pre-sentence report to be drawn up.

Judge Les Spittle said: “In light of all the material and evidence that the prosecution now have they are taking the position not to proceed against you the charge on the first count.

“They have accepted your plea on the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.”

He released Plummer on unconditional bail and told him that all sentence options remain open.

  • UPDATE (20/03/13)

Plummer received a six-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to death by careless driving, although medical experts are not certain if he fell asleep at the wheel or whether undiagnosed Parkinson’s Disease lay behind the incident.

Sentencing Plummer at Teeside Crown Court, Judge Peter Bowers said: “This sort of case raises a lot of emotions, and I have to be careful that I reflect in any sentence not only the tragic outcome, but also the culpability you must bear for the death of another human being.”

David James, defending Plummer, said in mitigation that he was unaware that he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and that he was not feeling tired prior to the incident.

He added that Plummer, who lost his partner when she was killed by a vehicle on a zebra crossing ten years ago, did not plan to drive again.

Shaun Dodds, speaking for the prosecution, said that speeding was not a factor in the case, and that Plummer recalled having seen Mr Greenwood and getting ready to overtake him.

The court heard from neurological experts who revealed that Plummer had been suffering from undiagnosed Parkinson’s Disease which could have caused the incident, although they believe it is more likely that it was due to his falling asleep momentarily at the wheel.

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