Family of cyclist killed in circuit race crash to take legal action after verdict of accidental death

Richard Phillips-Schofield died in March 2014 following a crash in the final lap of a race at Portsmouth's Mountbatten track

Richard Phillips-Schofield died following a crash at the Mountbatton track in Portsmouth in 2014

The family of a cyclist who died following a high-speed crash at the end of a circuit race in Portsmouth have said they will take legal action over what they say were unsafe conditions which led to his death.

Richard Phillips-Schofield died on March 11, 2014, two days after suffering severe head and chest injuries at the end of a race at the Mountbatten track in Portsmouth.

A jury inquest at Portsmouth Coroner's Court returned a verdict of accidental death on Monday (February, 12), concluding that "Richard died as a result of injuries sustained due to coming into contact at speed with an unyielding object after falling from his cycle".

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However that verdict did not satisfy the Phillips-Schofield family, with Richard's father Frederick saying that questions still needed to be answered about why the race had been allowed to take place in the first place.

"It has been a traumatic experience for all the family and although we have got some answers there is no real sense of closure," Mr Phillips-Schofield told Portsmouth News.

‘The barriers played a significant part in Richard’s death and in our view were clearly unsafe and we believe that the event should never have taken place at all. We are upset that British Cycling did not express their condolences at the time of Richard’s death."

The inquest had earlier heard how the 33-year-old was taking part in a 60-lap race of the outdoor track with around 45 cyclists, with the crash taking place on the final lap of the race.

"Someone in front of me either pinched against the barriers or they braked because someone moved in front of them, they went down very quickly and others went down," Thomas Morris, another rider competing in the race, told the inquest.

"I went over my handlebars into someone else. There was no swerving or braking, it’s straight down. I could see straight away it was serious."

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In the months after Phillips-Schofield's death, British Cycling introduced new safety measures and installed new fencing at the Mountbatton track, as well as other outdoor tracks in Brighton and Carmarthen.

However Mr Phillips-Schofield said that this was just further evidence at how not enough had been done to prevent his son's death.

"It’s telling that since Richard’s tragic death, belated though it might be, the unsafe barriers at all three closed circuit tracks have been replaced.

"Although it required my son’s preventable death before action was taken, hopefully that will mean other families do not have to go through what we have experienced."

Mr Phillips-Schofield also paid tribute to his son following the conclusion of the inquest, describing him as "a loving son, brother and partner... who died at such a young age and in such tragic circumstances doing the sport that he loved" and also thanked friends and family for the support they offered during the inquest.

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.