Park’s of Hamilton driver cleared of cyclist’s death

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Driver told to leave the court without a blemish on his record after Sheriff describes it as an “unfortunate incident with catastrophic consequences”

Parks of Hamilton coach driver Andrew Blyth has been found not guilty of causing the death of a cyclist by driving carelessly.

According to The Courier, the jury at Perth Sheriff Court took just an hour to clear Andrew after a three-day trial. The jury had been shown CCTV footage taken from inside the coach driven by Andrew, who told police he had not seen any cyclist on the road.

The late Robert Don, 53, was cycling home from visiting his sister when he was briefly filmed by the CCTV system onboard the coach as it approached and passed him on the A9.

The footage did not show a collision but Andrew told the trial there was “a bang” and he stopped his coach a short distance further down the road. Footage of the scene – recorded after Robert was taken to hospital (where a died a week later) – showed his bicycle lying at the side of the road and a pool of blood and a single glove nearby. Andrew told police during a post-incident interview that he had not seen the cyclist – who was not wearing a helmet or any high-visibility clothing.

The court heard the cycle path which runs alongside the A9 was flooded and impassable at the time of the incident. The Inverness to Edinburgh coach was being driven at 53mph and none of the 19 passengers saw the cyclist near Inveralmond roundabout on December 30, 2013.

Defence expert Jim Brunton of the Transport Research Laboratory, told the jury that Robert was only visible on the CCTV footage for 1.4 seconds: “From the first point of possible perception, to disappearing down the side of the coach was 1.4 seconds, less than two seconds’ reaction time. He would have to see something first to react to it. There is no way of determining reaction time in the given period, but we allow drivers a reaction time of two seconds.”

He told the court that the brake lights on the coach came on 0.4 seconds after the bike disappeared out of shot.

During his police interview, Andrew said: “I stopped just because of the bang. I did not see him whatsoever.”

Sheriff William Wood told him he could leave the dock without a blemish on his record. Extending the court’s condolences to Robert’s family, Sheriff Wood described it as a “most unfortunate incident with catastrophic consequences.”

He added: “Having heard the circumstances in which he was cycling that night, that he was not able to use the cycle path as it was flooded, it was dark and raining, and he was wearing dark clothing and no helmet, and had a single light, and the driver would had little time to see him. Hopefully gives some understanding how he met his injury.”