Wellington lecturer guilty of causing cyclist's death

Academic caused death of Wellington cyclist

Last updated 08:25 24/11/2011
CHARGED: Yvonne van Roy is charged with careless use of a motor vehicle causing death.
CHARGED: Yvonne van Roy is charged with careless use of a motor vehicle causing death.
Benjamin Lawless
Benjamin Lawless died on January 22 at the intersection of Allington and Makara roads in Karori.

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A Victoria University professor is to ask to be discharged without conviction after being found guilty of killing Wellington cyclist Benjamin Lawless.

Yvonne van Roy, 62, an associate professor in the school of accounting and commercial law, had been charged with careless use of a car causing Mr Lawless' death at the intersection of Allington and Makara roads, Karori, on January 22.

He died of head injuries at the scene.

Yesterday, Wellington District Court judge Tom Broadmore found she had been careless.

Her lawyer John Miller asked for no conviction to be entered and suggested she might pay something toward Mr Lawless' memory.

Judge Broadmore said it was possible that a restorative justice meeting between van Roy and the family would help both sides.  

He remanded the case for a week.

In her statement to the court, van Roy had said she was devastated and had had trouble sleeping since the accident.

She had always maintained she had never seen Mr Lawless who she thought had come from Makara Rd and had been surprised to find he had come down Allington Rd from where he had been spending the evening with hsi sister.

Judge Broadmore accepted there could be faults on both sides of a collision and  that Mr Lawless had contributed to the accident.  He was not wearing a light in an approved manner and he had no reflective clothing.  His family had said he was wearing a light on his helmet and that he always wore it.

The judge said there was conflicting evidence about how the light could have been clipped to his helmet or where he was wearing it.

"The lighting he had chosen clearly it had its limitation and was obviously insufficient,'' he said.

However, Judge Broadmore said there was sufficient light to see Mr Lawless at the relevant time and that the road ahead was illuminated by van Roy's headlights.

A defence expert had told the court that in the low light levels he would have been difficult to identify and by the time van Roy began the turn she had no time to stop the collision.

The police case had maintained she should have been able to see him and that he would have been in the beam of her headlights.
Van Roy and Mr Lawless' family did not want to comment on the judge's rulings. 

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A series of coroners' hearings into cycle deaths are due to be held next year.

- The Dominion Post

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