The passenger of a taxi who opened her door into the path of a cyclist, ultimately leading to his death, has been fined £80 after pleading guilty.
Mandy Chapple and taxi driver Farook Bhikhu appeared in Leicester Magistrates Court on Friday charged with opening a car door, or causing or permitting it to be opened, so as to cause injury.
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Castle Rock High School teacher Sam Boulton collided with a van after being hit by the taxi’s rear driver’s side door opened by Chapple as he cycled. The incident took place outside Leicester railway station on July 27 2016.
Boulton received severe injuries in the incident, and died later that day in Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Chapple pleaded guilty to the charge and was ordered to pay £150: £80 fine for the offence, £40 victim surcharge and £30 court costs.
The court was told that Chapple had checked behind her before opening the door, but could not get a clear view due to the nature of the vehicle, reports the Leicester Mercury.
Chapple’s defence, Nigel Hallchurch, told the court: “It was a series of things that happened – it was not entirely down to my client, who opened the door.”
“Since this she has been affected very badly with her nerves. She has been to see a doctor and is awaiting counselling and has been given anti-depressants. She thinks about it all of the time and is very sorry.”
Initially, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) elected not to prosecute Chapple and Bhikhu. Boulton’s family and national organisation Cycling UK – formerly the CTC – intervened to bring the case to court after the CPS reviewed it.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s senior road safety and legal campaigns officer commented: “The biggest problem is that this offence is not taken seriously because of the limited penalties. Cycling UK has repeatedly pressed the Government to introduce new offences of causing serious injury or death by car dooring, with tougher penalties. It is not right or just that tragic cases, such as Sam’s, see derisory penalties handed down.”
Dollimore continued: “It’s baffling how the Government is happy for an offence which breaks up families to be trivialised in our courts, and does nothing to help put an end to it.”
Bhikhu pleaded not guilty to the charge, and his case will be heard at Loughborough Magistrates Court in June.