Cyclist death jury sent out

Christopher Griffiths
Christopher Griffiths

A JURY has retired to consider its verdict in the case of a lorry driver accused of causing the death of a cyclist on the A19.

Christopher Griffiths, 50, from Wynyard, was killed after he was struck by HGV driver Paul Dove on the A19 southbound near the junction with the A689.

Dove, 54, is on trial at Teesside Crown accused of causing death by careless driving which he denies.

The collision happened at around 7am, on January 23, last year, on the outskirts of Hartlepool.

Mr Griffiths was riding to work along a narrow 3ft wide strip of Tarmac alongside the A19 shortly before he was struck.

It remains a mystery exactly where the fatal collision happened.

The prosecution claim a skid mark indicated Dove had been on or very close to a white rumble line separating the Tarmac and A19 just before the collision.

Paul Cleasby, prosecuting, said: “Had he paid attention, had he been watching what he was doing, no collision would have occurred on January 23 resulting in a tragic loss of life.

“He had the advantage of height, he had the advantage of being able to see further than a small vehicle and yet he failed to take advantage of those.

“He ought to have been more alert to what was happening on the road ahead of him.”

Mr Cleasby said other drivers saw Mr Griffiths and were able to avoid him. He also said Dove had given inconsistent accounts of the accident.

But the defendant insists he did not cross the margin line and claimed Mr Griffiths must have been on the white line or strayed into the road.

He said Mr Griffiths was “on top of him” when he became aware of him and he could do nothing to avoid him.

Dove, who is of previous good character, said he reacted instinctively and braked and steered away at the same time.

He said he was well rested and was early for his journey.

Witnesses described seeing the 40 tonne HGV lorry driving straight and normally in the left hand lane.

One described Mr Griffiths riding on that part of the A19 which is unlit as “suicidal”.

Mr Griffiths was wearing a high visibility jacket, partly covered by a backpack.

But the road was unlit and a rear light on Mr Griffiths’ bike, which had been on when he left Wynyard, was off just before the collision.

Stuart Driver QC, defending, said the jury could not be sure Dove, who was driving at 53mph, had crossed the white rumble line.

Mr Driver said: “The physical and witness evidence all supports the defendant’s assertion that he stayed inside the lane.”

Dove’s driving record was described as “great” with 20 years experience and over a million miles under his belt.

Dove, of Aldwych Square, Sunderland, denies death by careless driving.