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Emma Foa's death-verdict announced

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by spindrift, 21 Sep 2007.

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  1. spindrift

    spindrift New Member

    A lorry driver who ran over and killed a cyclist who was a writer and jewellery designer was today fined £300 after admitting careless driving.
    Emma Foa, 56 died as she cycled from her home in Hampstead Heath to work in Clerkenwell in December. She was killed instantly after being crushed between the cement mixer’s rear wheels and roadside railings.
    At Westminster Magistrates Court today Michael Thorn, 52 of Headley Down, Surrey was allowed to keep his driver’s licence and was ordered to pay £100 costs.
    The court had been told that Thorn had been looking for some papers in his cabin when the bike was beside him and also when his vehicle began to turn left and the fatal crash occured.
    The family of Ms Foa – the daughter of typewriter magnate Adriano Ollivetti said she was wearing a luminious reflector jacket and a helmet when she was crushed by the two tonne lorry.
    District Judge Anthony Evans said:
    “I accept in cases of this sort it’s distressing for all concerned, the family of the disceased and the driver whose inadvertance has resulted in a fatality.”

    Prosecutor Graham Parkinson told the court the incident happened at 9.10am in Camley Street, Kings Cross.
    “Emma was riding her bike and reached the traffic lights. She went along the nearside and waited for the lights to change,” he said.
    “She was alongside for 37 seconds and would have been visible. He moved off and turned left causing her to be pushed to the ground and killed instantly. He had been looking for some paperwork in his truck… He felt a bump, saw a bike and jumped out to find her.”
    Karen Dempsey, defending, said that Thorn was “shocked and distressed” and that the incident “would live with him for the rest of his life”. She added that witnesses had said he was not driving aggressively.
    I am not sure what I am most shocked by. I am not shocked that, despite the fact that Mr Thorn’s criminal negligence has resulted in the unlawful killing of Ms Foa, the court is allowing him to continue to drive.
    I am not shocked that, despite being found guilty of road crime, the driver has been fined £300.
    The sentence is entirely in keeping with the tariff for road killing. The driver who killed London bicycle messenger Sebastian Lukomski received a 6 point endorsement and a £1000 fine.
    Yet again, the old adage ‘if you want to get away with murder, get behind the wheel of a lorry’ is proven true. OK, it’s not murder, it’s manslaughter but someone is dead because someone else was in charge of dangerous machinery, and failed to their job properly.

    I am shocked that the judge has chosen the word “inadvertence” to describe the actions of the driver. Making a left turn whilst fumbling for papers in a HGV? That’s not inadvertence – that’s just f***ing stupid.
    I am shocked that the defending barrister said that the driver was not driving aggressively.
    As if a lack of aggression excuses somehow a negligent act which has led to an avoidable death. The dead woman’s only mistake was to be riding her bicycle and assuming that “a luminous reflective jacket” and a helmet would protect her.
    She stopped at the lights, and she wasn’t in the “blind spot”. But the driver didn’t see her, because he wasn’t looking. And she was crushed to death because he was too busy checking his pay-sheet to make sure he had got his overtime to pay attention to what his two-tonne machine might be rolling over.

    This is the reality of cycling in London. No matter how many campaigns, no matter how much lobbying, no matter how many pro-cycling articles the fact remains that any stupid, lazy, feckless waster of an idiot of a driver can kill with virtual impunity- the fine equivelent to less than the cost of the bike.
    Beyond belief.
  2. Tynan

    Tynan Veteran

    nasty business

    not clearing the driver, of course not

    but alongside another vehicle at a left turning?

    especially a cement mixer

    it's what we're all told to never ever do a million times, don't try and pass or be inside a large vehicle at left hand turns

    you can blame the driver, of course you can but passing a vehicle turning left makes you at least in part negligent
  3. domtyler

    domtyler Über Member

    Not much to say about this really as I don't know the full facts. I am sure that lorry would be near twenty tonnes rather than two though.
  4. Cab

    Cab New Member

    I would also like to know more before forming an opinion. A good reminder of the reasons not to go down the side of a large vehicle, but thats about as much as we can say.

    If the prosecution managed to demonstrate that the driver could see her but just didn't look because he was clarting on with paperwork then this is scandalous. If he really couldn't see her... Well, its tragic, and he deserves to be punished for driving while messing with paperwork, perhaps a greater punishment than he has received, but ultimately we can't tell from that report.
  5. Cab

    Cab New Member

    I got rear ended by another cyclist last year. There was a cycle lane, with a lorry to the right of it, indicating to turn left at the junction. No way in hell I was going to use that cycle lane, so I waited behind, and got clipped by another cyclist who wanted to bomb straight down the inside. Their choice to take that stupid risk of course, shame she wasn't paying attention to the cyclist in front of her (i.e. me).
  6. Maz

    Maz Guru

    Think of it this way, Cab - you probably saved her life.
  7. asterix

    asterix Comrade Member

    Limoges or York
    It's apparently easy to be a smartarse and say the cyclist shouldn't have done what she did but her 'misdemeanour' was never likely to result in someone else's death.

    The fact remains that the driver was in charge of a potentially very dangerous vehicle and saw fit to 'look for paperwork in his truck'. The sentence is hardly going to send a strong message to the many others who believe driving is merely a peripheral activity.
  8. magnatom

    magnatom Guest

    I see what you are saying asterix, but we also have responsibility for our own safety. As others have said we don't have the facts so the paperwork may not have been contributory to the accident.

    For example when I stupidly went up the side of an HGV,

    if the driver had pulled to the left and I had been killed, I would expect that I would be at least 50% to blame. I must admit if that had happened to me I probably wouldn't want the driver to be to heavily punished.

    Obviously my incident doesn't bear much relation to the one on the report.
  9. Tynan

    Tynan Veteran

    same law applies to cyclists as cars, passing on the inside is dubious, triply so at a junction
  10. spindrift

    spindrift New Member

    same law applies to cyclists as cars, passing on the inside is dubious, triply so at a junction

    Not true, filtering is entirely legal and my commute would take ten times as long without filtering.

    Emma may or may not have been injudicious. Mr Thorn was criminally negligent and killed Emma from being a lazy, inattentive fool. The fact he is still driving around on London's roads is staggering.
  11. magnatom

    magnatom Guest


    We really don't have all the information, with which to say that. Yes he should have been aware and yes he shouldn't have been messing about with papers, but the cyclists may have been in a blind spot and we don't know exactly when he was distracted in relation to the incident.
  12. spindrift

    spindrift New Member

    the cyclists may have been in a blind spot

    As Buffalo Bill points out, no legal compunction exists for lorry drivers to have extended mirrors fitted. Thorn's lorry did not have these £80-£100 mirrors fitted and judging by this case Thorn could kill three cyclists over ten years and still it would be cheaper than fitting the mirrors. Anyone who thinks this is fair is a buffoon.
  13. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    South London
    Filtering might be legal, but I believe there is significant onus on us to filter safely and properly.
  14. spindrift

    spindrift New Member

    I disagree entirely.

    "Thorn had been looking for some papers in his cabin when the bike was beside him and also when his vehicle began to turn left and the fatal crash occured."

    A person in control of 20t or so of stationary metal and cement should not move this vehicle without a thorough check that there is nothing in its path and, if he can't be sure whether he's about to squash someone or not, stay still until he can be sure.

    To behave otherwise is dangerous driving, which in this case caused death.

    And as for the ridiculous £300 fine - this bugger should have been locked up for a few years and banned from driving for life, since he's obviously incompetent as a driver and should not be allowed charge of heavy machinery.
  15. Maz

    Maz Guru

    They're under starter's orders....and they're off!!
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