Sun-blinded drivers who hit cyclist in Sunderland cleared of causing death

Scene of the fatal RTA on Burdon Lane.
Scene of the fatal RTA on Burdon Lane.
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TWO drivers who hit a cyclist while blinded by the sun have been cleared by a jury of causing his death.

Stan Coates was injured but conscious after he was hit by Michael Elton’s black Corsa motor on Burdon Lane in Sunderland on October 26, 2012.

The 55-year-old, from West Herrington, was able to speak to emergency services as he sat at the roadside waiting for an ambulance.

Newcastle Crown Court heard, within minutes of him being struck the first time, he was hit by a second car – a white Corsa driven by Edward Peverley – and dragged along the road.

Mr Coates was tended to by two passing nurses at the scene but died in hospital from injuries the following morning.

Michael Elton 25, of Rothbury Road, Newton Hall and Edward Peverley, 21, of Hetton Moor Farm, Easington Lane, both denied causing death by careless driving during a trial at Newcastle Crown Court. Jurors found both men not guilty of the charge.

Elton was found guilty of the lesser, alternative, offence of careless driving and will be sentenced today.

After the hearing, Mr Coates’ family said they may now take the case to the civil courts.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Philip Thompson, personal injury specialist at Sunderland firm Thompson and Co solicitors, said: “The Coates family remains understandably devastated by the events of October 26 2012.

“The ongoing criminal case has meant the family has had to wait for two years to receive any information about how Mr Coates died.

“However, the Coates family are pleased to have had the opportunity to build a picture of the events that led to Mr Coates’ death and to fully understand what happened that day.

“Furthermore, Mrs Coats was not previously aware that two nurses had been passing at the time of the incident, and she is grateful for the relative comfort they were able to give her husband in his final moments.

“The family was also grateful to discover that the incident did not occur because of anything Mr Coates did – he was a completely blameless victim.

“Although nothing can bring Mr Coates back, we have been investigating the possibility of a civil claim for compensation.”

The court heard both drivers had stayed at the scene when they realised they had hit and hurt the cyclist.

Elton told police he had finished a shift at Morrisons supermarket and was heading home shortly after 4pm when he hit Mr Coates.

The court heard accident investigators estimate Elton may have been travelling at up to 50mph and Peverley at less than 40mph.

The road has a maximum speed limit of 60mph