A widower whose wife was killed after being hit by a cyclist says the law needs to change – after a case yesterday saw another bike rider given just a year’s jail over the death of an elderly church minister.
Stewart McGinn, 29, was sentenced on Thursday after smashing into Jane Stone, 79, head-on as he careered round a corner at high speed in Monmouth, South Wales.
But he could only be charged under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act with a crime designed to cover incidents involving horse-drawn carriages.
He admitted causing bodily harm to Jane Stone by ‘wanton or furious driving while being in charge of a bicycle’ which carries just a two-year maximum punishment.
Matt Briggs said a new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling needed to become law as soon as possible in the wake of the latest tragedy.
His wife Kim was killed in east London in 2016 when she was hit by Charlie Alliston who was riding at 18mph on an illegal fixed-wheel bike with no front brakes.
Alliston was cleared of manslaughter but found guilty of causing bodily harm by ‘wanton and furious driving’.
Mr Briggs told MailOnline: ‘This is another senseless death and my heart goes out to Jane Stone’s family and friends in this traumatic time.
‘How many more tragedies do there need to be before the law is changed?
‘Once again prosecutors are having to use the archaic “wanton and furious” offence which doesn’t even mention death.
Mr Briggs’ wife Kim was killed in east London in 2016 when she was hit by Charlie Alliston who was riding at 18mph on an illegal fixed-wheel bike with no front brakes
Stewart McGinn, pictured, was today jailed for a year and banned from driving for two years
‘It is a Victorian law designed originally for horse riding. These cases keep happening and the punishment is just not fit for purpose.
‘Had this been a motorist the Road Traffic Act has clear remedies for this, juries and barristers know what they are dealing with and the punishment is 14 years.
‘But under “wanton and furious” it is just two years. I have been fighting for the past five years since Kim passed away for a new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling.,
‘Every transport minister I have spoken to has been very receptive and Grant Shapps said earlier this year it was going to happen, but as yet hasn’t.
‘I don’t know whether it is the pro-cycling lobby or whether the pandemic and Brexit have slowed down its progress. We are so close now.
‘Tragedies like this underline the need for the law to change.’
At McGinn’s trial footage was shown to the court showing him riding at high speed while Mrs Stone walks with a friend as she returns from the cinema on a warm summer’s evening.
The cyclist then hits the retired teacher who falls to the ground and is propelled back ‘violently’ on to the pavement.
McGinn then jumps back on his bike and stands up to peddle faster away as Mrs Stone lay dying. She later died of her serious head injuries in hospital.
Ms Stone, pictured, was walking home from the cinema when she encountered Stewart McGinn who was riding quickly along the pavement
McGinn, pictured on his bicycle before crashing into Ms Stone and riding off without stopping
Instead of stopping and providing assistance to his victim, Stewart McGinn pedaled off at speed on the wrong side of the road
Mrs Stone had no way of avoiding the crash and died in hospital four days after being injured after walking home from the cinema on a warm summer’s evening
Mrs Stone had no way of avoiding the crash and died in hospital four days after being injured after walking home from the cinema on a warm summer’s evening.
Prosecutor James Wilson said McGinn – who only had one working brake on his bike – came round the corner ‘at speed’ and collided with her.
He said: ‘She fell to the ground landing on her head and suffered a severe fractured skull.
‘The defendant did not stop or offer any assistance but cycled away.’
Mrs Stone’s friend Janet Bromley said Jane was ‘poleaxed’ to the ground by the force of the blow.
Mr Wilson said Mrs Bromley told police: ‘He collided with Jane’s body, the front of the bike collided with the front of Jane’s body.
‘It knocked her hands raised past her body which was pushed back violently.’
She went on to say that her friend’s feet were lifted ‘off the ground’ before Mrs Stone’s ‘head struck the pavement’.
Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke told McGinn, pictured, he showed ‘flagrant disregard for the safety of others’
Mr Wilson told Cardiff Crown Court that after the collision last June father-of-one McGinn stayed on the mountain bike and rode off to his mother-in-law’s house.
He said: ‘Mrs Bromley shouted to him I’m on my own, please help me but he ignored her and continued to ride away.’
McGinn only handed himself into police 10 days after the crash in Monmouth, South Wales, and falsely told officers he stopped to help Mrs Stone to her feet and check she was ok.
A victim impact statement from Mrs Stone’s brother David Bruton said his sister was not ‘a frail old lady’ and was ‘healthy and active’ who would go on long distance walks and took part in swimming and yoga.
Ben Waters, defending, said: ‘He will have to live with the consequences of his actions and causing the death of another person.’
Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke told McGinn he showed ‘flagrant disregard for the safety of others.’
She jailed McGinn for one year – saying the maximum sentence was two years – and banned him from driving for two years and six months.
She told him: ‘You were on the pavement riding far too fast and collided with Jane Stone with considerable force.
‘You gave no warning as to your approach and they saw no lights on your bicycle.
‘You rode on the pavement and rode very fast around the corner when you knew you could not see if anyone was there – they stood no chance of avoiding you.’
She said ‘this was not a momentary inattention’ and McGinn made ‘a deliberate decision to ignore or disregard the rules of the road which apply just as well to cyclists as other road users.’
McGinn, of Monmouth, was charged under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act.
Judge Lloyd-Clarke said no sentence she could pass would ease the pain felt by Mrs Stone’s family.
She said: ‘She gave her time to help others and her loss will be felt by many people for a very long time.’
Speaking after the sentence, Ryan Randall of the CPS said: ‘The way in which McGinn rode his bike around the corner was completely irresponsible.
CCTV footage showed McGinn, pictured right, approaching Ms Stone at speed
When he pops around the corner, there is nowhere for Ms Stone to go as she is unable to get out of McGinn’s way
‘His disregard for the safety of others using the pavement proved to be disastrous and is a stark reminder that pedal cycles can be dangerous to other road users when ridden so recklessly.
‘Our thoughts are with those who have suffered the tragic loss of Mrs Stone.’
Mrs Stone’s family paid tribute to her following the tragedy in her hometown of Monmouth, South Wales, and described her as ‘very caring and active.’
A statement said: ‘She was healthy and physically active, only a few years ago abseiling down the church tower to raise funds.
‘Having been born and brought up in Monmouth she trained in London as a teacher, in which profession she was well respected and appreciated.
‘In retirement and being a widow, she returned to her roots, involving herself with great enthusiasm in many aspects of Monmouth life.
‘She was a past Churchwarden of St. Thomas’s Church, was a Lay Eucharistic Minister, Sacristan and heavily involved in all church activities, helping and supporting members of the community as needed.
McGinn falsely told officers he stopped at the scene to check on Ms Stone’s condition
‘She enjoyed long distance walking, setting herself the challenge of completing 1,000 miles per year and was currently tackling, with her walking friend, Offa’s Dyke from South to North Wales.
‘Jane was a well-loved member of the family and closely followed the lives of her great nieces and nephews.’
Her church paid tribute to ‘full of life’ Jane who they described as a ‘supportive and tireless’ churchwarden.
A spokesman for Monmouth Parishes said: ‘Jane was always so full of life and willing to share not only her time but also her faith in her care for others.
‘She was a supportive and tireless churchwarden for many years and a hardworking sacristan who gave her considerable talents in ensuring that the highest standards were maintained behind the scenes of worship.
‘She was a lively contributor to house groups and study groups, a welcoming hostess and she also made a significant contribution to St Thomas PCC.
‘A fearless and loyal friend for all those who knew her well.’