Driver pleads not guilty to causing death of Mick Mason by careless driving in landmark CDF case

An old family photo of Mick Mason and his daughter Anna Tatton-Brown
Gail Purcell (58) of Colney Street, St Albans, today (13 September) appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for the first hearing into the offence of causing death by careless driving contrary to section 2B of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This case was brought to court as a private prosecution by Cycling UK’s Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF)

Ms Purcell pleaded not guilty to the charge, which relates to the death of cyclist Michael Mason (70) in London on 25 February 2014.

The case was heard at Westminster by District Judge Kenneth Grant, who declined jurisdiction on the basis it was a matter that should be allocated to crown court.

The first crown court hearing will take place on 11 October at Southwark Crown Court, where Ms Purcell has indicated she intends to plead not guilty. There may be an application to adjourn this hearing by the defence to obtain an expert report.

Appearing for the prosecution at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today was barrister Michael Goodwin. Ms Purcell was represented by Laura Porteous.  

London teacher Michael Mason was cycling north on Regent Street from Oxford Circus in London on 25 February 2014. At 6.23 pm Michael, known as Mick to his friends, was hit from behind by a black Nissan Juke driven by Ms Purcell, and as a consequence sustained a fatal injury to his brain.

On 14 March, 19 days after the incident that knocked him off his bike, having never regained consciousness, Mick Mason passed away as a result of his injuries. 

The Metropolitan police investigated the collision at the time but decided not to prosecute, initially declining to refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). 

Following work by the Cyclists’ Defence Fund and ongoing pressure from the media, the police, on 12 March 2015, revisited their decision and agreed to refer their investigation to the CPS. Six days later, the police reverted to their original decision not to refer the case to the CPS, informing the media of their decision prior to notifying Mr Mason’s immediate family. 

CDF brought the private prosecution following donations from more than 1,600 supporters who helped raise nearly £64,000 towards case costs.

Cycling UK’s Duncan Dollimore, spokesperson for the CDF, said: “It has taken the Cyclists’ Defence Fund over two years to bring this case to the courts’ attention and today, we hope, sets Mick’s family on the path to closure which the Metropolitan police previously denied them.

“The Cyclists’ Defence Fund wants to thank everyone who has generously donated. Without their help this private prosecution and the Mason family’s ongoing struggle for justice wouldn’t have been possible.”

This is the first private prosecution brought by CDF for any offence involving the death of a cyclist, and the first private prosecution for causing death by careless or dangerous driving that the CDF is aware of.