"Lawless and Selfish" Lorry Driver Sentenced to 3½ Years Jail

Judge Daniel Worsley has sentenced the unlicensed lorry driver who killed a cyclist to three and half years in jail and banned him from driving for 10 years. 

At Blackfriars Crown Court the judge addressed the driver, Barry Meyer, 53, as being "consistently lawless and selfish in your disregard of the safety of road users". His "cavalier attitude to driving caused a needless death and righteous horror".

Mr Meyer has a string of driving convictions and has been banned several times. After the last ban he re-applied for a car licence but did not bother to apply for his HGV licence to be renewed. He was driving without a licence and without insurance.

London Cycling Campaign understands that the Police have no plans to prosecute the lorry company that allowed Mr Meyer to drive without properly checking that he had a valid licence. LCC has written to the Traffic Commissioner for London and South East England asking that the company's Operator Licence be revoked and that the managers are not allowed to operate in another company.

In July 2013 Mr Meyer drove his 32 ton tipper lorry through a red light at Proctor Street in Holborn, stopping illegally in the yellow hatched area, blocking the junction area for half a minute. He was trying to keep up with a friend in another lorry in front.

Cyclists, including the victim Alan Neve, coming through the green light on High Holborn were forced to ride through the blocked traffic. When the traffic began to clear the lorry driver accelerated quickly, running over Mr Neve who was killed instantly. Based on the evidence prepared for the case the judge said that if the driver had kept a proper lookout he "could and should have seen" the cyclist in the left side mirror and for a further four seconds when his cycle helmet would have been visible in front of the driver.

The court was shown very distressing video footage taken from a camera on the lorry and from other vehicles. The lorry's own camera clearly shows the driver going through the first stop line into the ASL "cyclists' area" on an amber light and continuing over the second stop line through a red light. The video showed how the cyclist had clearly overtaken the lorry before it accelerated after him.

The harm that this careless driving caused was made clear by the impact statement from Alan's widow. It was read out in court by the prosecuting barrister Allison Hunter. It is a tragic statement; she says: "It is impossible to fully convey how Alan's death has affected me." She recalls how she visited him at least once a day in the chapel of rest before the funeral. She describes how when living with Alan her "life used to be vividly and richly coloured and now it is black and white."

The judge took this level of harm into account in the sentencing. He also referred to the impact statement of a witness who is so traumatised that he was unable to work for a year and is still unable to drive, ride a bicycle or return to central London where the crash happened.

The judge set the jail sentence close to the maximum that is allowed by official guidelines. Despite the defence counsel suggesting that the cyclist had "put himself into a position of danger", the judge ruled that the level of carelessness was "right at the top of the bracket" set out in the sentencing guidelines. He said that the lorry driver was "in control of a potentially highly destructive vehicle" and that he "should be aware that there is a blind spot" in front of the vehicle. In that situation the judge's opinion is that the driver has "a need to take special care".

The jail sentence was increased because of Meyer's appalling driving record and because he was unlicensed and uninsured. The judge also mentioned that his tachograph records showed excessive, illegal driving hours twice in the previous ten days.

After Alan's death thousands of cyclists joined LCC in a "Flash Ride" protest calling for protection through Space for Cycling and action against lethal lorries. Since then we have seen prototypes based of "Direct Vision" tipper lorries on London's streets. These are based on a challenge we put out to the construction industry a few months before this tragic collision.

When asked by an ITV reporter after the sentencing hearing "are London's streets safe for cycling", our LCC spokesperson was able to say "they are safer today with this driver in jail and banned from driving for the next ten years".

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