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Charges dropped against driver who killed cyclist after apparent

Road.cc: Charges dropped against driver who killed cyclist after apparently fainting

By Simon_MacMichael - Posted on 12 January 2010

After the collision, the Range Rover continued in a straight line, going over a roundabout, before hitting another car and finally coming to rest against a lamppost.

According to the Daily Mail, the driver, 35-year-old Tracy Johnson, got out of her vehicle in a “shocked and dazed” state, asking: “What happened?”
Investigators discovered that Mrs Johnson had used her mobile phone to make a 40-second call to her husband three minutes before the collision, but there was no suggestion that she had been using the phone when the crash happened.

Mrs Johnson had pleaded not guilty at a preliminary hearing last year to the charge of causing death by dangerous driving, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment.

But yesterday, a pre-trial hearing at Chester Crown Court heard that medical experts from both the defence and prosecution were in agreement that Mrs Johnson was not conscious when her vehicle hit Mrs Corless on the morning of 27 September 2008.

The driver is thought to have suffered a reflex syncope, a common condition affecting around one in two people during their lifetime, which can cause the heart rate to slow and blood vessels to dilate, leading to less blood reaching the brain which can cause fainting or blackouts.

The victim’s husband, who suffered injuries to his legs, pelvis, back and head, and who has not been able to return yet to hus work within the steel trade, said the family was disappointed that the case would not be going to trial.

“Our lives have been turned upside down,” said Mr Corless, “but at least the prosecution would have meant a judge and jury hearing the evidence as to what happened and ultimately some justice for Sharon.

’Now that won’t happen and until I receive a proper explanation of the supposed "medical condition" that caused Tracy Johnson to hit us, I remain bitterly disappointed that the prosecution has been dropped’” he continued.

Mr Johnson added: “To say we are devastated by Sharon’s death is an understatement. She was the focal point of the family, a fabulous wife and wonderful mum.”

David Potter, for the prosecution, said: “’For reasons that defy a reasonable explanation, the defendant’s vehicle began to accelerate towards the roundabout. Witnesses behind the vehicle said at no stage did they see brake lights come on.”

Referring to the expert evidence provided, Mr Potter explained: “Consultant cardiologist Dr Adam Fitzpatrick produced a report in which he said she was likely to have suffered an abrupt episode of syncope at the wheel. He took the view that on the balance of probability Tracy Johnson was not in conscious control of the vehicle.”

Judge Elgan Edwards, dismissing the case, said: “This court has seen many, many sad cases. This is one of saddest cases that has come before the court. This was a tragedy for all involved, it continues to be a tragedy for all. Lives continued to be ruined and one life was lost.”

He continued: “If this case had gone to trial it would not have led to a prosecution. No jury properly directed could be sure with this evidence that the defendant was guilty.”