Driver's trial in the Michael Mason case has started
On 14 March 2014 Michael Mason, known to his family as Mick, passed away as a result of the injuries he sustained 19 days earlier in a fatal collision on Regent Street. He was hit from behind by a Nissan car driven by Gail Purcell, who was unable to explain why she had failed to see Mick when other witnesses did.
Purcell's trial for causing Mick's death by careless driving is at last due to commence next Monday (3 April) at the Old Bailey, three years after his family's fight for justice first began.
Unusually, this prosecution is not brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), but as a private prosecution by Cycling UK's Cyclists' Defence Fund (CDF). It is believed to be the first private prosecution brought in England and Wales for causing death whilst driving.
The CPS never had an opportunity to consider whether it should prosecute Purcell, which would have avoided the need for Mick's family to seek the assistance of CDF. This is because the Metropolitan Police declined to refer the case to the CPS for advice, notwithstanding the CPS guidance that charging decisions in fatal collision cases should be made by a senior crown prosecutor.
Just before the first anniversary of Mick's death, the Met Police changed its position and agreed to refer the case to the CPS, before reversing that decision again six days later and refusing to do so. Thereafter Cycling UK announced that through CDF it would support Mick's family, and instruct lawyers to investigate and advise on the merits of a private prosecution of Purcell, given the Met's reluctance to do so.
Two years on, thanks to the incredible generosity of cyclists, supporters, and those who simply believed that a court should hear the evidence in this case, over £80,000 has been raised through crowd funding to enable the private prosecution commenced last year to come before a jury next week.
In September's hearing last year, Purcell pleaded not guilty to causing death by careless driving, and the case was subsequently listed for a six day trial, which begins on Monday coming. Referring to the support her family has received Mick's daughter Anna Tatton-Brown said that, "The ongoing support offered us by the Cyclists' Defence Fund, and the many people who have donated money, is an ongoing source of support and solace".
The ongoing support offered us by the Cyclists' Defence Fund, and the many people who have donated money, is an ongoing source of support and solace.
Anna Tatton-Brown, Mick's daughter
This prosecution would not have been possible without incredible crowd funding support, in relation to which Cycling UK, CDF and most importantly Mick's family are immensely grateful. The funds raised so far will not currently cover the entirety of the prosecution costs, and should CDF not raise enough, the balance will be met by CDF's reserves. If you are able to and wish to support Mick's family, and contribute to the costs of this case, you can still do so by donating online via Justice for Michael.
This case was brought as a private prosecution because many people believed the evidence should be heard and put before a jury. That will happen next week, but would not have been possible without all of you. Thank you.
We will be reporting on the trial as it proceeds next week.