Driver admits cycling death

Driver admits cycling death

Driver Stephen Bateman at Oxford Crown Court yesterday

Police at the scene of the accident

Joanna Braithwaite

First published in News by

A PENSIONER who killed a cyclist in his cement mixer lorry was yesterday told he faces jail.

Stephen Bateman admitted causing the death of church rector’s assistant Joanna Braithwaite by careless driving at Oxford Crown Court.

The 74-year-old’s cement mixer struck and killed Miss Braithwaite at about 9am on October 28.

Bateman, of Astrop Road, Middleton Cheney, was warned by Recorder Harold Persaud: “This is a serious matter and it’s likely to result in a custodial sentence.”

Charles Ward-Jackson, prosecuting, said Bateman was performing a turning manoeuvre at the junction of Woodstock Road and Polstead Road in North Oxford but said the accident was “complex”.

Quoting from an expert’s report, he said: “This is not a case in which expert evidence alone can solve the puzzle of what happened in the last few seconds of Miss Braithwaite’s life.”

Mr Ward-Jackson said one eye witness recalled the cyclist being knocked off her bike and run over as Bateman l Continued from Page 1 reversed and run over again as he drove forward.

But other witnesses said Miss Braithwaite had already come off her bike and was on the ground when she was struck as the vehicle moved forward, the court heard.

Mr Ward-Jackson said: “The manoeuvre itself that was executed by the defendant is referred to in the building industry as a reverse block manoeuvre.

“It does appear to be a dangerous manoeuvre on the public road because what it involves is driving a heavy goods vehicle into the opposing lane and reversing backwards into a side road without any form of banksman.

“If the manoeuvre itself is dangerous that may be an aggravating feature when it comes to sentence.”

Mr Ward-Jackson admitted the eye-witness evidence was “somewhat inconsistent”.

He added: “What is clear is that the deceased cyclist was lying on the ground before she was struck by the rear wheels and it’s not immediately clear from the eye witnesses and expert evidence how that comes about.”

Miss Braithwaite, 34, worked at St Aldate’s Church as personal assistant to the rector, the Rev Charlie Cleverly.

In her spare time the Polstead Road resident took up capoeira, a Brazilian dance which combines martial arts, and helped organise the annual Love Oxford Christian festival.

Hugh Williams, defending, said his client admitted the charge on the basis Miss Braithwaite was only struck once by the lorry and that a camera mounted near the vehicle’s rear axle meant a banksman was not needed.

He added: “Wherever, and for however long, Miss Braithwaite was viewable we accept that Mr Bateman should have seen her and that’s why we plead guilty.”

Recorder Persaud ordered an expert report into the dangerousness of the reverse block manoeuvre and said he would look at the differing witness accounts at sentencing.

Bateman was given bail to be sentenced on October 12.

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