A speeding motorist who killed a cyclist on a pedestrian crossing in Manchester city centre has escaped being charged – as there was no official speed sign saying it was 30mph.
Michael Campbell, 40, had been accelerating up to 49mph in the 30mph zone in his Seat TDI when he hit businesswoman Jaye Bloomfield, 44, as she was wheeling her bike over a puffin crossing.
But although he was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, Campbell was not charged after it emerged a speed limit sign had been ‘incorrectly placed’ on a slip road in Manchester city centre by road contractors.
Police discovered that instead of the traditional 30mph sign, contractors had left a red ‘unofficial’ speed limit sign which Campbell had not seen.
As a result, lawyers believed there was no prospect of conviction as Campbell would have been unaware he had to legally slow down.
Had he been charged and convicted, he could have faced up to 14 years in jail.
Jaye’s family condemned speeding drivers and revealed they were suing Campbell following an inquest into her death.
The 44-year-old, from Whalley Range, Manchester, was a planning technician but had recently completed a college course and she was in the process of setting up her web design business.
She had tied the knot with her partner of eight years, Gemma Godden, 37, in a civil ceremony in August 2012 and the couple were making plans to celebrated their ‘paper’ anniversary.
Teacher Gemma said: “Jaye would often cycle to work but if it was a longer distance we would drive. She was a keen cyclist and always cycled with a helmet.”
The tragedy occurred on August 3 last year when Jaye was cycling on the slip road heading from Princess Road in Manchester onto the Mancunian Way.
Motorist Matthew Collier, who was at the scene when the incident took place, said: “I stopped at a pelican crossing and a number of pedestrians went across. I saw Jaye and from my recollection she was pushing her bike with her feet across it, straddling the bike.
“Just before the lights changed I saw a car on the right coming around the corner.
“I commented to my wife that the car was going quite fast. Shortly after we heard a loud bang and when we looked over we saw some debris on the road and I thought maybe someone had been hit.
His wife Sharon added: “I saw Jaye come across. I remembered her because she had electric blue shorts that you could see under her clothes. We saw a silver and black car come around at an exceedingly high speed.
“At the time we were not sure if it was the silver or black car that hit and we didn’t know it was Jaye. She had gone over at a normal walking pace.”
Another witness, Noor Abu, spoke to Campbell moments after the incident and said: “He was in a shock. I told him to take it easy.
“He his head in his hands and was sat on the floor. He was kind of mumbling although I could not make anything out from what he was saying.”
Campbell told the hearing: “At the roundabout I looked right and there was nothing coming so I merged to the left.
“I could see the pedal cyclist under the bridge going the same direction as me. It was just a glance. The traffic lights were green so I accelerated.
“I heard something hit the car and thought it had come from above. I immediately stopped in the middle of the road and looked to my left and saw someone in the road. I ran to the person, confused.
“I did not notice the red sign. It was saying 30mph on the roundabout but on the way to the motorway I thought it was 50. I don’t think that sign was very visible.”
Jaye suffered fatal head and chest injuries and died at the scene.
Senior investigating officer Ian Beaumont told the Manchester inquest: “We understand the Seat Leon TDI to have been travelling at around 41-49mph which is in excess of the 30mph speed limit. But I understand that the driver did not see Jaye.
“The CPS had a consultation and as a result of that they determined no further action against Mr Campbell would be taken in response to the matter. They deemed there was no realistic prospect of conviction in this case.”
“There should be a sign indicating the speed limit but this was incorrectly placed by contractors. There was no specific sign to indicate the speed limit was 30mph.
“The pedestrian crossing is placed in the middle of the motorway essentially. It isn’t meant for cyclist but for the movement of pedestrians.”
The inquest was told the official 30mph sign was due to be erected.
Recording a narrative verdict, Manchester Assistant coroner Fiona Borrill, said: “I shall be writing a letter to Manchester City Council to find out when the signs will be in place and what progress has been made in respect to this improvement. I am looking to find a time scale.”
After the case in a statement, Gemma said: “I have lost the partner I loved and wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I miss her every day as do her family and friends.
“We both loved cycling but this terrible accident once again highlights the dangers cyclists face from motorists driving at speed.
“I urge drivers to respect the speed limit. If the driver who hit Jaye had been driving at 30mph or below as he should have been, he would almost certainly have seen her and been able to stop.
“I want police to clamp down on speeding drivers and I want drivers to realise that cyclists are all someone’s loved one. Please look out for cyclists and give them space on the roads.”
Gemma’s solicitor Carol Jackson from Manchester law firm Pannone said: “We are advising Gemma as to the possibility of a civil action against the driver of the car.”
Story via Cavendish Press
Image via Google maps, with thanks