A refuse driver accused of causing a colleague’s death when he reversed into a telegraph pole was cleared of causing death by careless driving today.
A jury at Leeds Crown Court took less than an hour to clear 51-year-old Ronald Fieldhouse.
The court was told Mr Fieldhouse was driving the truck when it mounted the pavement in Beeston Park Terrace, Leeds, and hit the pole, causing it to fall and strike David Nelson as he worked at the back of the vehicle.
Mr Nelson was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering a severe head trauma in the incident on April 19 last year.
The court was told Mr Nelson, 56, was known as a banksman, whose job was to throw rubbish into the back of the truck and to help guide the vehicle as it reversed down the road.
The jury was told the cab of the truck was fitted with a monitor which showed the reversing area of the vehicle.
Heather Gilmore, prosecuting, told the jury: “The defendant should have been able to see the pole. The Crown say the wagon shouldn’t have been on the pavement in the first place.”
“There was plenty of room on the road for the defendant to reverse the bin wagon down the road without coming into contact with the parked vehicles.”
The court was told the defendant had undergone safety training and how to work with a banksman.
Local resident Sharon Connor told the court she heard a very loud bang as she woke her children up.
She told the jury: “It felt like the house shook. I looked at the children and said ‘what was that?’
“I carried on opening the curtains and looked outside. I saw the telegraph pole lying on the floor and saw the binman - he was just falling to the grass.”
Mr Fieldhouse, of Grange Avenue, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, denied the charge.
He said the road was often “chock-a-block” with parked cars because of parents taking children to a nearby school.
He told the jury in an “ideal world” the truck would not have to drive on to the pavement as part of the reversing process, but the manoeuvre was often “forced upon” the refuse team.