Dec 23 2010
STUNNED Solihull cyclists have slammed the sentence handed down to the driver who killed their most talented female rider and accused the courts of a cover-up.
Cath Ward was competing in a 10 mile race against the clock on the A46 near Alcester on August 4 when she was hit from behind and killed by a black Audi A4 estate car.
The driver, Arron Bjorn Cook, 27, of Thackeray Close, Lower Quinton, Stratford-upon-Avon, appeared before magistrates at Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington on November 15 where he admitted causing the death by careless and inconsiderate driving of mother of two Cath, aged 52, and was banned from driving for 12 months, given a 12 month community order, with 200 hours of unpaid work - known as Community Payback - and told to pay £110 costs.
Olympic silver medallist and Tour de France rider Harry Reynolds speaking on behalf of Solihull CC said: “We as a club are appalled at this sentence. It just beggars belief that anyone’s life is worth just this. The driver wasn’t even fined.”
And he went on to accuse the courts of a cover-up after hearing that when our reporter checked to see if Cook’s case was going ahead on November 15, he was told that Cook’s defence had asked for an adjournment so there was no need to attend, when in reality they were happy to proceed.
“This has all the signs of a cover up - in my view he should have had a five year custodial sentence at the very minimum,” he said.
Cath’s husband Martin Ward said the family were unwilling to comment, however the Dorridge family’s MP, Caroline Spelman said: “I was deeply saddened to hear of the tragic death of Cath Ward last summer. Clearly we need to continue to work to ensure the safety of cyclists on our roads.by encouraging drivers to be extra vigilant and making it clear that careless driving will not be tolerated.”
A West Midlands CPS spokesman said: “A Crown Advocate reviewed all of the evidence and decided to charge Mr Cook with an offence of careless driving rather than dangerous driving.”
Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy director of the Cyclists Touring Club of Great Britain said: “It is hard to understand how driving into the back of a cyclist on a clear summer evening is anything other than ‘dangerous’, and therefore why the motorist was allowed to get off so lightly for a mere ‘careless’ driving offence.”
Louise Hooker, from Simon Burn Solicitors, of Cheltenham, who represented Cook in court, did not want to comment on the case.