Father of Sam Harding slams “gap in law” on cycle deaths

The father of a cyclist killed in a freak “car dooring” accident says his respect for British justice has diminished, after the motorist involved was cleared of manslaughter.

Keith Harding, 56, said he was disappointed by the verdict at the Old Bailey on Friday and called for what he sees as a “gap in the law” surrounding such incidents to be closed.

His son Sam Harding, 25, of Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park, was crushed to death under the wheels of a 153 bus in Holloway Road, Holloway, on August 6 last year, after a car door was opened into his path as he cycled in the bus lane.

Driver Kenan Aydogdu, 32, of Crossways Road, Surrey, denied manslaughter by gross negligence and was cleared of the charge, although he admitted during the course of the trial, which was the first of its kind, that he had not checked his wing mirrors.

The court also heard that his Audi had tinted windows with only 17 per cent visibility.

Mr Harding, of Lightfoot Road, Hornsey, said this week: “I do feel disappointed in the legal system and my respect for British justice has diminished as a result, but hopefully something can be done and it will be restored.

“I can understand why the jury didn’t want to convict of manslaughter.

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“The problem is there was no lesser offence that would cover it.

“It could not come under offences like careless driving or causing death by dangerous driving, because the engine wasn’t on and he wasn’t moving. There is nothing between a fixed penalty notice and manslaughter for these cases.”

Mr Harding, a freelance teacher trainer and tourist guide, believes the law needs to be changed. He added: “It would not necessarily require a whole new law. It could be achieved by a rewording of the law, to state that dangerous driving includes dooring for example.

“If the law was changed, I would feel our loss was not in vain, although it won’t bring him back.”

Cycling activists have backed Mr Harding’s call. John Ackers, of Islington Cyclists’ Action Group, said: “Dooring is a very frequent cause of accidents, but there is a gap in the law. There needs to be something in law related to it. Drivers also need to be more aware of the danger it puts people in.”

London Assembly Member Jenny Jones, of the Green Party, this week called for “a major awareness campaign” and tougher enforcement over dooring.

She obtained figures from the Met that reveal police have dealt with 427 cases, but only issued 52 fines since January 2006.