Driver on trial at Old Bailey after crowd-funded prosecution over death of cyclist

Cyclists' Defence Fund brings private prosecution of Gail Purcell, who is accused of killing cyclist Michael Mason due to careless driving

A driver accused of causing the death of a cyclist in London is on trial at the old Bailey from Monday due to a private prosecution brought by the Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CFD) using crowd-funded money.

The CFD – a subsidiary of national organisation Cycling UK – has brought the private prosecution against driver Gail Purcell, accusing her of causing the death of 70-year-old cyclist Michael Mason by careless driving.

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Mason was riding on Regent Street during the evening rush hour in February 2014 when he collided with Purcell’s car, which was travelling behind Mason. Mason – known as Mick – sustained a fatal brain injury as a result of the collision, and died in hospital on March 14 2014 after not regaining consciousness.

The CDF says that it is the first public prosecution of its kind for causing death by careless driving. Around £80,000 of the funds for the prosecution were raised from members of the public.

>>> Trial date set for driver brought to court by crowdfunded private prosecution

The CDF took up the prosecution after the Metropolitan Police decided for a second time in March 2015 not to refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The Met had previously made a U-turn on its decision not to refer the case to the CPS, only to reverse the decision again.

Speaking in October last year, CDF spokesperson Duncan Dollimore said: “With a trial date set for April 3 … the Mason family will have had to wait three years since Mick’s tragic death for this case to be heard. This unnecessary delay was entirely avoidable if the Metropolitan Police had followed guidelines and referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

“Fortunately the wider public’s support, both moral and financial, has allowed Cycling UK’s CDF to bring this crowd-sourced private prosecution. We cannot thank them enough for helping Mick’s family on their journey to achieve justice.”

The trial is due to take place at the Old Bailey over six days.