A DRIVER who knocked down and killed a 15-year-old cyclist in Lancashire could face manslaughter charges after a coroner stopped an inquest and referred the case back to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
An inquest heard that David Harwood, 46, failed to either slow down or stop after he hit Dylan Crossey, 15, knocking the teenager off his bike in the village of Whitestake, Lancashire on October 7, 2016.
Harwood, an accident damage assessor of 18 years, was on his way to meet a woman he had met on the dating site Zoosk.
His original trial, in which he was charged with causing death by dangerous or careless driving, collapsed in 2018.
After a campaign by Dylan Crossey’s mother, Tracey Milligan, it was agreed in July 2021 that a jury inquest would be held. The area coroner Dr James Adeley ordered a reconstruction of the incident based on the available evidence.
The inquest at County Hall, Preston, heard that prior to the incident at around 11pm, Harwood had consumed two pints of lager, a glass of wine and a kebab. He did not appear to have braked before hitting Crossey, who was cycling with his friend.
Crossey was thrown over the car, onto the road and sustained “unsurvivable” head injuries. Though Harwood claims to have heard a loud bang and to have had his windscreen broken, he claimed not to have inspected the damage to his silver BMW company car until the next day.
When questioned on the latter point, Harwood replied: “I should have done. Absolutely.”
Asked about whether his eighteen years’ experience as an accident assessor should have given him some indication as to the fact that he had hit a person rather than, as he had thought, a dog or other animal, Harwood replied:
“I didn’t see any reflectors, nothing in the headlights of my car, or under streetlights. It was quite a loud bang and I noticed there was some damage to the windscreen on the left-hand side.”
He added: “I just drove. I just carried on. I was just shocked.”
The inquest also heard that moments before arriving at the scene of the accident, another driver in the area was nearly forced off the road by a car driving “erratically”. Harwood denied that this was his car.
According to Angela Parker, the woman David Harwood was meeting that night, when he arrived at her house he seemed agitated.
“He was pacing up and down the room and looking out of all the windows,” she said. “I was very uncomfortable”
Harwood apologised to Crossey’s family from the witness box, telling them that he was “so, so sorry”.
“I would like to say to Tracey there is absolutely no words I can say to make this better for you,” he said. “I truly am genuinely sorry for your loss.”
After new evidenced emerged during the inquest last Friday, Dr Adeley ordered a halt to proceedings and referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service, asking for a new charge of gross negligence manslaughter to be considered.
Police will conduct further investigations before the CPC decides whether to charge Harwood again. The coroner said that a decision on whether to hold a new trial could take up to twelve months.
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