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Dalston e-bike death: Cyclist acquitted of careless driving after death of Sakine Cihan

PUBLISHED: 17:20 02 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:20 02 March 2020

The scene in Kingsland Road after the crash. Picture: David Peat

The scene in Kingsland Road after the crash. Picture: David Peat

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Electric bicycle rider Thomas Hanlon has been cleared of killing a pedestrian in Dalston by careless driving.

Sakine Cihan.Sakine Cihan.

Thomas Hanlon, 32, stood trial at the Old Bailey, accused of causing the death of Sakine Cihan on August 28 2018, as she crossed the A10 in Kingsland High Street.

Sakine, 56, died in hospital the next day as a result of a "catastrophic" head injury, in what is believed to be the first death of a pedestrian after a collision with an e-bike in the UK.

The lights at the crossing were green for traffic but the prosecution alleged the speed Hanlon was travelling at amounted to driving without due care and attention.

On his approach to the collision he was estimated to have been travelling at 27mph on a road that was limited to 20.

In law e-bikes fitted with an electric motor can only be driven without a licence or insurance if their power is limited, and the motor automatically switches off at speeds above 15.5mph.

Mr Hanlon did not give during the four-day trial but summing up this morning, his barrister Clare Howell told jurors at the Old Bailey that even if Mr Hanlon hadn't been breaking the speed limit, he wouldn't have had time to stop before Ms Cihan walked in front of him anyway.

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"This is a case about something that happened within the time a careful and competent driver may not even have reacted at all," said Ms Howell.

"It's something that happened within 1.4 seconds.

"We know that in this case his reactions were quicker than careful and considerate drivers to react to her stepping out, which suggests he was keeping a very good look out.

"We know it was all over before a careful and competent driver may have even reacted, because she stepped out in front of him, and she didn't just step out. She ran out."

Ms Howell added: "Has the prosecution produced any evidence to show you if he'd been travelling at 20mph and braked, that would have meant a lesser chance of death? No. They haven't done that and it's not really possible to do that because we are still in this two second period. 
"The prosecution are inviting you to dance on the head of a pin here, and we would respectfully invite you to say this is far short of a case where you have evidence to reassure you that he was careless, and that anything he did contributed to what was a very sad accident."

Ms Howell also addressed the fact that Mr Hanlon left the scene, leading to a police appeal at the time to trace him.

"You may think that wasn't a very nice thing to do, and you may think it was a bad thing to do but you know he was concussed and that would make him confused and wanting to go to his mum's house and go to sleep," she said.

"You know Mr Hanlon answered all the police questions in an interview, and what more could he say. You also read the interview that caused his distress, that caused his solicitor to ask whether he could continue in an interview."

Jurors retired to deliberate on the trial just after lunch today and returned within just over an hour to acquit him of causing death by dangerous driving and driving without a licence and without insurance.


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