Old Street cycle death trial: Jurors urged to ‘put aside prejudice’ as they retire
PUBLISHED: 16:15 21 August 2017 | UPDATED: 16:53 21 August 2017
Jurors in the Charlie Alliston bicycle death trial this afternoon began deliberations – after being urged by the judge to “put aside feelings of prejudice”.
Mr Alliston, 20, denies the manslaughter of Kim Briggs, as well as causing actual bodily harm by “wanton or furious driving”. Alliston, 20, was cycling in Old Street on February 12 last year when he collided with mum-of-two Mrs Briggs, 44.
He was said to be travelling at up to 14 mph when he collided with her. Jurors heard Alliston was riding a “fixie” or fixed-gear bike with no front brake – which is illegal on UK roads. He allegedly shouted at her to “get out of the way” twice before their heads smashed together.
After summing up, Judge Wendy Joseph told the Old Bailey jury: “It’s hard to think of a case that’s more likely to rouse your emotions. A young man who was 18 at the time. A woman in her 40s with her life ahead of her.
“Put to one side feelings of emotion, feelings of sympathy, feelings of revulsion, feelings of prejudice.”
In his closing speech before the jury was sent out, Mark Wyeth, defending Alliston, questioned the manslaughter charge. He said: “I ask as a matter of common sense and looking across all the evidence: is this really manslaughter? Really?
“We’ve had an eloquent speech from [prosecutor] Mr [Duncan] Penny, we’ve had mood music all around this case and, yes, it’s a tragedy for the Briggs family. It’s also a tragedy for the Alliston family.”
“The counsel of perfection that the prosecution put forward is so complete [that] if you reversed the outcome – if Mr Alliston went over the handlebars, had fractured his skull and died and Mrs Briggs got up and dusted herself off – what’s to stop her from being prosecuted for manslaughter on the approach the prosecution take, because she should not have been there?”
It is accepted that Mrs Briggs stepped backwards into Alliston’s path while crossing the street.
My Wyeth added: “I’m not criticising Mrs Briggs.”
He also suggested it was unlikely that a driver in Alliston’s position would face the same charge: “If you drove your car really dangerously and at very high speed, you might get prosecuted for what’s called gross negligence manslaughter. You might.
“But this defendant is not getting prosecuted for gross negligence manslaughter. He is getting prosecuted for unlawful act manslaughter. As drivers, the prospects you would be prosecuted for unlawful act manslaughter are very slender.”
He added Mrs Briggs had not used the pedestrian crossing 30 feet away from where the pair collided and Alliston had right of way.
“This is not a case of somebody jumping the lights,” he said. “This is not a case of an approach speed on this bike that was illegal. It’s a 30mph area and the hazards that were in that road were not of Mr Alliston’s making.”
Court reporting by Press Association