Driver with cocaine in blood found guilty of cyclist’s death

HMRC

A driver with cocaine in his system has been found guilty of causing the death of a cyclist in Wolverhampton.

Joseph Large, 30, was found guilty at Stafford crown court in December of causing the death of 50-year-old Paul Thompson by careless driving after the jury returning a unanimous verdict.

The court heard that Large tested positive for 158 micrograms of cocaine in his blood at the roadside.

Thompson was pronounced dead at the scene after being hit by the 32-tonne refuse lorry in 26 November 2018.

Large had pulled out of a road as Thompson, who was wearing a fluorescent yellow helmet and backpack, cycled past the junction.

He suffered head, spinal, chest and abdominal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Large told the police he had had difficulty seeing due to bad sunlight, but the prosecution argued that the collision occurred because the HGV driver failed to give way.

For the prosecution, John O’Higgins, said: “"An expert reconstruction has confirmed Mr Thompson was there to be seen for eight seconds before the collision. Apparently, Mr Large told police, during an interview, that he stopped.

“He didn't - but turned into the road without stopping. It is that which caused the collision with Mr Thompson.

“He shouldn't have pulled out without taking a proper look to his left - particularly if the sun was preventing him from seeing clearly.”

Large was granted bail and will be sentenced on a date yet to be confirmed.

‘Illegal’ use of HGVs results in disqualification

HMRC

A Greenwich operator who “more likely than not” acted illegally by nominating lorries on another firm’s licence while continuing to operate them has been disqualified for three years.

Kent Haulage also had its licence revoked after traffic commissioner John Baker said the case fell into the category of serious to severe conduct, taking into account how illegal use of vehicles was viewed and the fact director Danny Peal continued to attempt to cover up what had occurred.

Suspicions were aroused following a DVSA maintenance investigation, during which the traffic examiner found prohibitions, deficiencies in inspection sheets and driver walk round checks.

But in addition, additional enquiries showed that Peal and Kent Haulage had switched a number of lorries between its licence and the licences of other operators, including Simon Mallia.

It was also shown that the vehicles were owned and insured by Kent Haulage whilst the registered keepers of the vehicles were other operators.

At an Eastbourne PI, Peal told the TC that the use of lorries by Mallia was by way of a hire agreement and Mallia was supposed to pay £500 a week.

Mallia did not attend the PI and the DVSA traffic examiner could find no trace of him at his registered operating centre and subsequent attempts to meet with him had proved unsuccessful.

In addition, no evidence was produced to support Peal’s claim that a bona fide hire agreement was in place.

In his written decision, the TC said: “I do find that it is more likely than not that Mr Peal and therefore Kent Haulage were acting illegally by arranging to nominate vehicles on the licence held by Simon Mallia and continuing to operate those vehicles.

“I do not have to find what the motive for this was but believe it was because Mr Peal had more vehicles than the number authorised and decided to use additional vehicles in the way described.”

He added: “I have limited the period [of disqualification] to three years because this is the operator’s first public inquiry and I believe from his behaviour at the inquiry that Mr Peal has learnt a salutary lesson from the process.”

At the same PI, the TC disqualified Mallia for three years and revoked his licence too.