Unusual to see cyclist on A19, motorists tell death by careless driving trial

ON TRIAL: Paul Dove (left) is accused of killing Christopher Griffiths
ON TRIAL: Paul Dove (left) is accused of killing Christopher Griffiths

THREE drivers told a jury of their surprise to see a cyclist on an unlit dual carriageway in the dark.

The three commuters were giving evidence in the trial of lorry driver Paul Dove, who is accused of causing the death of Wynyard cyclist Christopher Griffiths.

Dove’s lorry collided with Mr Griffiths as he cycled along the nearside margin of the A19 near Billingham.

Site manager Robert Garlick told Teesside Crown Court: “I’ve used the road to get to work for 12 years.

“It was the first time I’ve seen a cyclist in the morning when it’s dark.

“There’s no street lights and I couldn’t see a light on the bike.

“I wondered why the car in front moved across to the right, when I saw the cyclist I did the same.”

Alan Smurthwaite was driving his Peugeot to his work as a technician when he came across Mr Griffiths.

“I saw some flashes in the distance from a reflective strip,” Mr Smuthwaite told the jury.

“At first I thought it might be a highways worker, but it became apparent is was a cyclist.

“The bike was being ridden straight, there was no wobbling.

“It was on the strip of asphalt to the left of the white line, and should not have come into conflict with other road users.

“But I thought it was a very dangerous place to cycle.

“I said at the time it was suicidal, I meant no disrespect to the cyclist who died, just that he had put himself in great danger.”

Paul Major passed Mr Griffiths on his way to work as a prison officer.

“When I saw the cyclist he was riding straight and not swerving,” said Mr Major.

“He was wearing some form of hi-viz jacket, and I saw a red flash which may have been a reflector or a dim light.

“I thought the cyclist was brave to be on the road at the time.

“In other words, I thought it was unsafe to cycle there.”

The court heard earlier cyclists are allowed on that stretch of the A19.

Prosecutor Paul Cleasby said many drivers had safely passed Mr Griffiths.

Mr Cleasby added: “A driver driving carefully and competently would have passed the cyclist without incident.”

Dove, 55, of Aldwych Square, Farringdon, denies causing death by careless driving on January 23, last year.

The trial continues.