Bus driver charged over death of cyclist crushed on Oxford Street (14/4/10)
A bus driver has been charged over the death of a young artist who was crushed while riding her bicycle along Oxford Street.
Jayne Helliwell, 25, suffered fatal injuries when she was hit by the No390 double-decker as she passed a bus stop near Tottenham Court Road station.
She was taken to the Royal London Hospital but died four hours after the accident.
Last night Metroline bus driver Carlton Lewars, who suffered minor injuries in the crash on 14 April, was charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
The 59-year-old, of Wood Green, was released on bail to appear at Westminster magistrates’ court on 15 October, Scotland Yard said.
Ms Helliwell lived in east London and worked as an artist, photographer, graphic designer and music-video director.
Friends paid tribute to her following her death, which happened a week before her 26th birthday.
Musician Leo Kurunis, 22, said: “Jayne was a lovely girl and so talented. She did so much with her life – she always had projects on the go. She was a warm-hearted girl with the world at her feet. Everyone who knew her is devastated. She loved cycling and travelled everywhere on her bike.”
Ms Helliwell, whose parents live in Rugby, studied illustration and animation at Kingston University. She put on art shows in the capital and designed artwork for bands and DJs. At the time of the accident, roadworks had turned the eastern end of Oxford Street into what cycling groups said was a dangerous one-lane “slalom”.
Friend Amelia Gregory said: “I hope, very soon, that we will see safer roads for cyclists and that her life will not have been taken in vain.”
The father of an artist killed when a bus hit her bicycle on a busy shopping street said today the family had been through “sheer hell” as the driver was acquitted.
Carlton Lewars, 60, of Gladstone Avenue, Tottenham, north London walked free from Southwark Crown Court after prosecutors offered no evidence against him.
He had been accused of causing death by dangerous driving after his bus hit Jayne Helliwell, from Braunston in Northamptonshire, as she cycled along Oxford Street in the West End of London in April last year.
The artist and photographer was on her way to a photo shoot with the band Fun Lovin’ Criminals when she was killed.
Speaking outside court, Miss Helliwell’s father Peter said: “I want the judge to know that we were in court today and that we were going through sheer hell.
“She was 25 years old, at the height of everything, taken away in an instant where she was on her shoot. Everybody is absolutely devastated.”
However he said that the family and Miss Helliwell’s grieving boyfriend Daniel Smallwood do not blame Mr Lewars for what happened.
“We bear no animosity towards Mr Lewars, and Jayne my daughter would not have wanted that man to go to prison. She was not that kind of person,” he said.
The 60-year-old thanked the police and London Mayor Boris Johnson for their support, but slammed bus company Metroline for not getting in touch with the family sooner.
He claimed that the firm did not contact the family for six months, and said they “showed no remorse whatsoever.”
Relatives of Miss Helliwell including her mother Barbara, 59, aunt Chris Bradshaw, 57, sister Vicki, 31, and her partner Colin Prince, 48, were at court today.
Mr Lewars claimed that a sudden attack of sciatic pain meant that he could not control his foot at the time of the crash, and so was pressing the accelerator pedal rather than the brake.
Mr Helliwell said: “Sciatica has now been brought into the fore and if you suddenly have this kind of reaction should a driver be employed if they have sciatic pain?”
His daughter, who studied at Kingston University, cycled regularly and had her bike specially adapted for city riding.
She had been with her boyfriend Mr Smallwood for 10 years, but he was too devastated to come into court today, Mr Helliwell said.
Ms Bradshaw paid tribute to her niece, saying: “Jayne was the most beautiful person. She was beautiful inside and out. She was happy and creative and she was loyal to everybody. Everybody loved her.”
Prosecutor Barry Gregory explained that the CPS had decided to offer no evidence in the case because “it is not now sure that the prosecution could reach the high standard of proving, so that the jury would be sure, that Mr Lewars drove far below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver given those medical circumstances in which it has already been shown that he would not have been able to forsee the sciatica coming on in the way in which it did, causing him to press the accelerator rather than to press or try to press the brake.”
Mr Lewars’ bus hit Miss Helliwell’s bike and then collided with another bus, before hitting a bus shelter.
Judge Deborah Taylor told the court: “It is always a great tragedy when someone is killed in an accident of this kind.”
But she said she was sure the victim’s family, would appreciate the “very unusual circumstances”.
An extraordinary case. Bizarre medical emergency have been used before as an (accepted) excuse for causing death by driving.