Michael Bray, the long distance lorry driver who killed cyclist Karl Austin during a time trial last June, was yesterday given a 24 week sentence, suspended for two years, at Derby Crown Court.

The court had heard Bray admit to causing death by careless driving, claiming he didn’t see Austin who was taking part in a club time trial on the A50 near Hatton in Derbyshire.

Austin, who was wearing reflective clothing and had fitted a rear light to his bike, died at the scene. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Bray, 62, was also disqualified from driving for two years and has been put under an 18-month supervision order and a four month tagged curfew.

Judge Michael Fowler of Derby Crown Court told Bray, “passing a draconian sentence on you doesn’t in any way honour the death of Karl Austin.”

Last month magistrates at South Derby Magistrates Court, where the case had initially been heard, had ruled that it was beyond their remit to pass appropriate sentence.

Keith Austin, father of Karl, told CW he believed the sentence was lenient but not unexpected.

“We were very pleased to have eventually got the case to Crown Court for sentencing but feel now that the sentence is little more, if at all, than would have been passed in a magistrates court,” he said. 

“Our hope that a stiff sentence would send out a signal to other road users that more care was needed where cyclists are concerned has been dashed.

“I can’t say we’re disappointed, certainly in the last few weeks we’d begun to realise he [Bray] would get a suspended sentence.”

It emerged in court that Bray had been driving at 56mph on the 50mph A50 at the time of the incident and according to Police reports had around 1,200 metres, or 45 seconds, to see Austin.

“There’s nowhere to go from here,” Keith Austin added, “we’re glad it’s over because it’s gone on much longer than we ever expected.”

  • Jonathan York

    Stiffer sentences would offer a clear warning to vehicle drivers of the need to exercise appropriate care around cyclists. Sadly this sentence is typically lenient in the UK and while a stronger sentence would not reverse this tragedy it might help to prevent future ones.

  • mike thomas

    Firstly my condolences to the Austin family for their very sad loss.

    There is something very odd about the sentence passed it seems to me. Why does it comprise of four seperate elements?

    It as though Judge Fowler could not bring himself to hand down a custodial sentence. Rather he thought that a 24 week suspended prison sentence, alongside a two year driving ban (why is Bray allowed to ever drive again!), an 18 month supervision order (what exactly is being supervised here?), and finally a four month tagged curfew (what is the purpose of that if he is being ‘supervised’?), so somehow this ridiculous rag-bag of minor punishments approximates to ‘draconian’ in the mind of our learned friend. He needs to check the dictionary definition of draconian… urgently.

    The sentence shames the justice system and not the man brought before it having been convicted of causing a death.

  • Richard Norman

    I have a foot in both camps here, having been a lorry driver for years (thankfully no more) and a cyclist for years (thankfully still!). It is true that there is a blind spot on the left hand mirror but that would not have been an issue here as he was moving at speed. The sentence is inappropriate but what would a heavier sentence achieve?The driver will have lost his livelihood and will have to live with the fact that he killed someone, for the rest of his life.
    This will continue to happen as all delivery drivers, are put under enormous pressure to complete totally unreasonable delivery schedules. So many times you are required to drive a huge vehicle to an inappropriate location and unload 2 tons of equipment, often by hand. You may have to do 20 of these “drops” in a day. Therefore the pressure to shave time is immense. There is no point complaining to your boss, you will be told that there are plenty of unemployed lorry drivers who will do the job, which is true.
    The whole business needs to be looked into, I am amazed there are not more fatal accidents. Also, the safety element of racing on busy trunk roads, OK 50 years ago perhaps, but with today’s traffic, no thank you!

  • phil j

    I guess if you,ve been killed on your bike its irrelivant whether the driver responsible gets a lollipop or a custodial sentance.
    Personally i,ve considered many times to completely give up this hobby and keep fit some other way. its no wonder so few women ride as they dont share mens danger seeking tendancies.
    Only the other day people were phoning into radio 2,s morning show hosted by richard madely to say the ridiculous things they,ve seen other drivers doing behind the wheel of their vehicles. It doesnt inspire me with confidence at all.

  • Mike

    My sincere condolences to the family and friends.

    Sadly, once again, the mesage this paltry sentence sends out is “If you want to kill someone and get away with it, use a motor vehicle”

  • Simon

    Tragic for the Austin family. I am of the optimistic opinion that in 25 years time people will look back at this sort of thing and wonder how we let thousands of people die like this. The courts, drivers, public, and the politicians really need to take a good look at themselves and wonder how they feel if it was any member of their family on the road today. Get a grip and stop it, because this should not be happening in the 21st century.

  • Chris Matthews

    Well it beggers belief , this driver claims not to have seen Karl evan though he was wearing reflective clothing and using a rear light , also being a TT event there would have been warning signs along the coarse, where was he looking ? . This is a qualified HGV driver `an expert driver’ also keeping in mind he was on a 50mph road and his vehicle is limited to 56 mph and it apears he was doing the vehicles max speed . I think these sort of incidents will continue until the drivers get just penaltys for the offence comited , There are a large amount of vehicle drivers who treat cyclists with total contempt .

  • steve clarke

    Yet another example of the lenient sentences for road accidents. I would encourage all road users to join RoadPeace in their fight for tougher sentences.
    Sincere condolences to the family of Karl Austin.

  • graham cooper

    The conflict is also that its probably drivers drawing up the categories of charges for prosecution and then setting the tariffs available to the courts. How can driving a vehicle at any speed into the space occupied by another road user be considered careless? Hitting someone with a vehicle is plain dangerous, as is not being aware of any other road users in front of you. And that is before you consider other illegal factors such as excess speed etc. Until the courts treat these types of incident as dangerous based on the result of the actions of the driver then little will change.

  • Opus the Poet

    “I didn’t see him” should be an automatic jail term. I think there used to be a song about driving while blind?

  • s.george

    The problem is that we have drivers passing judgement on drivers. There is an inherent conflict of interest which must be addressed.

  • s.george

    A 24 week sentence is certainly not draconian particularly as it is suspended,[in other words it will never be served]. It is outrageous that drivers continue to be given the message that killing cyclists and pedestrians does not merit a proportionate punishment.