Cyclist knocked off her bike by ‘blinded’ driver

Jeffrey Walton said the sunlight meant he could not see anything for around three seconds.
Jeffrey Walton said the sunlight meant he could not see anything for around three seconds.
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A cyclist suffered fatal head injuries after a driver knocked her down as he turned into a junction in “blinding” sunlight, a jury heard.

Keen sportswoman Maria Micklethwaite, 36, died after being struck by Jeffrey Walton’s car as she rode along Slack Lane, South Heindley, near Wakefield, on January 13 last year.

Walton, 51, told a court yesterday (Jan 22) how he shielded his eyes from bright sunlight shortly before turning on to Church Lane and believed his path to be clear.

Walton, of Station Road, Ryhill, is on trial at Leeds Crown Court where he denies causing death by careless driving.

The court heard Walton, a painter and decorator, was on his way home from work when the incident happened around 3.20pm.

Sophie Drake, prosecuting, said Mrs Micklethwaite was a keen cyclist, was wearing a helmet and dressed appropriately at the time of the collision.

She said: “The weather was bright and dry but significantly the sun was sitting very low in the sky and was very bright...and because of its position restricted a driver’s view.”

Mrs Drake said because of the weather conditions Walton should have slowed down or stopped his vehicle.

She added: “The crown say it was due to the defendant’s careless driving that the collision occurred. In other words the defendant was driving without due care and attention, below what would be expected of a careful and competent driver.”

The jury heard Walton stopped immediately after the collision. He tried to dial 999 from his mobile phone but couldn’t because his hands were shaking. A witness and passers-by stopped to help but Mrs Micklethwaite died from her injuries.

Giving evidence, Walton told the court he had used his arm to shield the sun for his eyes for around three seconds before the collision. He said: “I looked up the road and I couldn’t see anything coming.”

The jury has retired to consider its verdict.