Cyclist fined after collision death

Family calls for more severe penalty

A Buckingham cyclist was fined £2,200 on Tuesday after being convicted of dangerous cycling in the town, an incident leading to the death of 17 year old Rhiannon Bennett, say BBC reports.

Jason Howard, 36, was cycling down Verney Close, at around 17mph according to police evidence, when he was in collision with Rhiannon, causing her to fall and hit her head on the pavement. She died six days later. 

Aylesbury magistrates were told Howard had shouted at Rhiannon to "move because I'm not stopping" before crashing into her and were also presented with evidence that he could have swerved to avoid Rhiannon, but decided to stay on a straight course towards Rhiannon and her friends in order to try and pass between members of the group.

A witness told the court that Rhiannon and eight of her friends were walking to a chip shop after drinking beer in a park. The court heard that Rhiannon had drunk “two or three” cans of lager but was “absolutely fine”.

There was conflicting evidence as to whether Rhiannon was actually in the road or had stepped back onto the pavement and whether Howard actually mounted the pavement.

The conviction was criticized by Rhiannon’s father Mick Bennett, who said he believed Howard should have faced manslaughter charges and been jailed for several years over his daughter's death in April 2007.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the charge was the most appropriate one.

The charge of dangerous cycling is the most serious cycling-specific offence and carries a maximum fine of £2500 but no prison term can be imposed.

The definition is riding so that ‘it would be obvious to a competent and careful cyclist that riding in that way would be dangerous’.

There are also the lesser offences of riding a bike without due care and attention, also known as careless cycling (max fine £1,000) and cycling on the pavement (max fine £500).

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