Driver who killed Anthony Hilson convicted of causing his death by dangerous driving

The road where cyclist Anthony Hilson was killed
The driver who killed cyclist Anthony Hilson in September 2012, when she took her eyes off the road, has been convicted of causing his death by dangerous driving.

Victoria McClure had previously pleaded guilty to causing Mr Hilson's death by careless driving, but a jury has now convicted her of causing death by dangerous driving. She was handed an interim driving ban and will be sentenced on 30 August at Reading Crown Court. McClure already has 3 speeding convictions and has attended a drivers awareness course.

Anthony Hilson was out for a Sunday morning ride on September 9th 2012 when he was hit from behind by McClure on the A4 Bath Road in Twyford, Berkshire.

Looking at her satnav

There was high visibility that day and a clear, open stretch of road ahead, yet McClure failed to see Mr Hilson before looking at her satnav to use the zoom function. Reading Crown Court was told that McClure would have had a window of 18 seconds in which to see Mr Hilson, but she only realised he was there when there was nothing she could do to avoid the collision. 

Although this was a successful prosecution, the presentation of evidence did cause some concern. The police forensic investigator made no attempt to calculate exactly how long Mr Hilson would have been in McClure’s sight if his speed were taken into consideration. It is likely that he would have been in view for much longer than the stated 18 seconds, which is calculated solely on the basis of McClure’s driving speed, assuming Mr Hilson was stationary. He may have been in view for up to 54 seconds if he was travelling at 20 mph. 

No amount of sentencing will bring Tony back, but it is about time that cyclists' deaths are taken seriously. If a conviction of death by dangerous driving is given, I feel that a person should never be allowed behind the wheel of a car again"

Maxine Hilson
Anthony Hilson's wife

Fortunately, the jury did not agree with the defence barrister's assertion that Mr Hilson was partially to blame for the collision. The defence claimed that Mr Hilson’s black, red and white cycling gear made him difficult to spot. 

McClure will now almost certainly face a custodial sentence.  However, we think it much more important that she faces a long driving ban. Only then can we be confident that drivers like her won’t kill again.”

Rhia Weston
safety campaigner, CTC

Most of the time, cycling is a safe activity, but on rare occasions when collisions between motor vehicles and cyclists occur, the justice system regularly fails to take them seriously. In this case, however, the CPS’s decision to prosecute for dangerous driving shows that it took a serious approach. McClure should now face a long-term driving ban and be required to undergo remedial training and re-testing - only then can we be confident that drivers like her won’t kill again.

CTC does not think that imposing custodial sentences on drivers who cause death is the ideal solution, as in most cases they only present a danger to the public when behind the wheel of a car. Thus, imposing long-term or life-time driving bans is a more effective solution and deterrent to bad driving. When drivers have caused danger intentionally or recklessly, or if they have a history of breaching driving bans, long custodial sentences are more appropriate. Read CTC's policy on the legal framework and sentencing for more information.  

A volunteer from CTC's Road Justice campaign attended the trial. CTC will aim to scrutinise similar trials in future.

About CTC's Road Justice campaign

CTC launched the Road Justice campaign, with the support of Slater & Gordon lawyers, to take to task the justice system on its frequently lenient approach to bad driving.

The campaign urges the police, prosecutors and courts to demonstrate that bad driving is taken seriously and actively discouraged, in order to make the roads safer.

The justice system, starting with the police, must signal clearly that incidents involving death or injury to a cyclist or other vulnerable road user will be treated with the gravity they deserve.

By policing the roads effectively; charging and prosecuting drivers for suitable offences; and issuing sentences that adequately reflect the severity of the offence, a clear message will be sent that bad driving is not tolerated and lives will be saved.

Please sign the petition calling on all police forces in England and Wales to take bad driving seriously.