England

Van driver who blamed cyclist death on 'gust of wind' sentenced

A5 near Tamworth Image copyright Google
Image caption The crash happened on the westbound A5, near the slip road for the B5440 Marlborough Way, on 5 May, 2015

A van driver who claimed a gust of wind forced his vehicle into the path of a cyclist, killing him, has been given a suspended sentence.

Paul Maguire, from London, was taking part in a charity bike ride when he was hit on the A5 in Tamworth in May 2015.

Dean Swift, 23, of Rosewood Park, Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire, hit him from behind and, despite treatment at the roadside, he died at the scene.

Swift was given a six-month sentence suspended for two years.

He was convicted of causing death by careless driving at Stafford Crown Court last month.

More updates on this and other stories in Staffordshire.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the weather conditions at the time of the collision were overcast with moderate rain and a blustery wind.

When Swift was arrested he claimed the wind forced his vehicle into the path of the cyclist.

Andy Gee, senior West Midlands Crown Prosecutor, said: "Although the conditions that day were wet and windy, Dean Swift would have had a clear sight of the road ahead of him and he would have had ample time to spot Paul Maguire riding his bicycle.

"A motorist in front of the defendant managed to complete a safe manoeuvre around the cyclist. However, Swift failed to safely pass the victim and, as a result, his van collided with him.

"The defendant's driving fell below that expected of a competent and careful driver, which tragically resulted in the death of Mr Maguire."

Swift was also disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs, the CPS said.

Mr Maguire's family, who moved to Perth, Australia, from Ireland, attended the five-day trial last month.

Speaking at the time, they thanked other motorists that stopped and helped.

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