British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake has called
for a review of sentencing
and better education for road users in response to Lee Cahill’s ‘lenient’ sentence for killing cyclist Rob Jefferies as a result of careless driving.

Eighteeen-year-old Cahill hit and killed Jefferies whilst driving along the A351 near Wareham, Dorset, on 26 May 2011. Jefferies was cycling along the road on a training ride and was struck from behind by Cahill, who said he was blinded by the sun.

“Our thoughts are with Rob’s widow Jane and his family and friends,” said Drake in a statement issued on Friday. “This is undoubtedly a very difficult time for them.

“Rob’s case is a tragic example of why we need policy makers to work with us on the issue of cycle safety. From the facts of the case it is clear that Rob was a totally innocent victim of a young and inexperienced driver who had already been in trouble with the police for his bad driving.”

Cahill was charged with causing death by careless driving and sentenced to a 12-month, 200-hour community order, ordered to pay £85 costs, banned from driving for 18 months and ordered to re-take a driving test by Weymouth Magistrates Court on Thursday. Cahill passed his driving test in January 2011.

“It does not appear to British Cycling that the sentencing in this case sends the right signal to drivers, particularly young drivers, whose actions can have such tragic consequences for cyclists.

“Our members believe that sentencing in these rare but extremely sad cases is all too often too lenient and we shall be asking ministers and policymakers to engage with us on this.

“We will also be pushing for more and better education for road users on cycling safety, including changes to the driving test and the Highway Code, especially with regards to younger drivers.”

According to Crown Prosecution Service guidelines for causing death by careless driving, Cahill was given a near-minimum sentence commensurate with “momentary inattention with no aggravating factors”. The maximum sentence is five year imprisonment; the more serious offence of causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.

Jefferies had worked for British Cycling as a volunteer co-ordinator, and was a well-known figure on the cycling scene. 

Related links

Driver who killed Jefferies given community order

  • Phil O’Connor

    For what it is worth I have uploaded a screen grab from the photographers ephemeris website which shows the exact direction of the sun at the time indicated. It can be seen at http://www.philoconnor.com/may26-2011.jpg

  • Mike Healey

    I’ve since done more research into the reported details of the collision, particularly the so-called expert’s report on sun conditions on that road at that time. Either I’m completely wrong, or the investigation into the driver’s story was, to say the least, sloppy. My leter to the Bournemout Echo is as follows:
    Letter begins
    I’m totally baffled by the defence story put forward by Lee Cahill concerning being dazzled by the setting sun, together with the expert’s statement that “His report stated that drivers travelling north to west at the time of the collision would have had the sun shining almost directly across the road”

    As far as I can tell from a map, the A351 goes in a north-easterly direction. Sunset time on that day was 9.04pm and the direction was 306 degrees, i.e. north west. Since it is impossible to travel from “North to West” on google UK’s map of the the A351 but only north east, the direction of the sun would have been at about 90 degrees to their direction of travel. I do not ever recall being dazzled by the sun coming through my left had passenger window. Since you originally reported the time of the collision as 8.10pm, i.e. just under an hour before sunset, the likelihood of anyone being dazzled under those circumstances is about as close to zero as you could get.

    Was the “expert” on the same road?
    Ends

  • Mike Healey

    “Eighteeen-year-old Cahill hit and killed Jefferies whilst driving along the A351 near Wareham, Dorset, on 26 May 2011. Jefferies was cycling along the road on a training ride and was struck from behind by Cahill, who said he was blinded by the sun.”

    A strange thing tohappen, since, according to the local paper, both were going North on the A351 near the Purbeck Sports Centre (ggogle map it). In fact the road runs roughly North East and the collision happened at 8.10pm. I may, of course, be confused about where the sun sets, but doesn’t it set in the West?

    The driver was, therefore, clearly lying in his teeth, which makes the sentence even more absurd

  • Opus the Poet

    This is a case where there is significant asymmetry between the victim and the perp, both in the circumstances and the consequences. The victim is dead, the perp is minorly inconvenienced.

  • peter mcdonald

    typical justice system,i have been hit twice on the same roundabout in glasgow once putting me off the bike and off work for 10 mths,on both ocassion i was already halfway across the roundabout when hit,both drivers claimed not to see me,and of course no charges were brought to them,seems we are just car fodder.

  • Downfader

    Its almost as if the courts just rubber stamp these drivers through. It must make the Police wonder why they’ve bothered, and christ knows what the family must be feeling.

  • Angharad

    Cyclists are disposable, damage someone else’s car and see what happens. I hope Rob’s family get some justice from the system.

  • Phil Jones

    If he had survived the collision and put a claim in for whiplash, he would have got better justice.
    Killing people with cars seems to be tolerated by society in this country and doesn,t serve to help people modify their driving around vulnerable roadusers. knowing there will be no repercusions from their misjudgements or lack of attention.
    I have seen numerous drivers reading or compiling text messages whilst driving and as a cyclist that scares me a lot!

  • Ian Cooper

    How sad and sick, that a man can get away with killing another human being and only have to pay for it with community service, an 18 month driving ban and an £85 fine. I guess life is cheap in Britain.

    Since when what being dazzled by the sun a valid excuse for killing someone. If you’re dazzled by the sun you are required to SLOW DOWN so that it doesn’t affect your ability to drive safely. You don’t just carry on as if there’s no problem! If you do, and you kill someone, you should go to jail for no less than a year and preferably a lot longer. What sort of message does it send to drivers when a man can kill someone and end up with the same out-of-pocket expense as a restaurant meal?

    It’s about time that the courts started treating roadway death as a bit more important than a parking violation!

  • Kevin Blackburn

    Sentencing was just a joke – as you say commensurate with no aggravating circumstances – as if he just had a momentary wobble and was witnessed by someone, no account taken of taking someone’s life. And £85 fine – what a joke – what did that pay for? Doesn’t even cover the cost of the legal process, peoples time, travel, inconvenience, and definitely no compensatory measures for the family of Rob Jefferies. The Judge is just laughable – probably thinking ‘there but for the grace of god….’!!