Julie Dinsdale, a midwife and partner of industry icon Keith Bontrager, said she was "hugely disappointed" by a £625 fine handed down to the HGV driver who ran into her in 2015 while she was cycling in London – she lost her right leg in the incident. The HGV driver walked free from court; Dinsdale now walks with a prosthetic leg and a stick.
Despite pleading guilty to driving without due care and attention the driver of the lorry, Florin Oprea, was only fined £625. He also received five points on his licence, but continues to work as an HGV driver.
“I am hugely disappointed by the decision of the court," said Dinsdale. "The evidence showed that I was visible to the driver. Given the impact his actions have had on my life he should have been handed a more substantial sentence."
Dinsdale was crushed under the wheels of the lorry, driven by Oprea as it turned left across her path. The incident occurred as Dinsdale was turning into Central Street from Old Street in central London on 4th October 2015.
The court heard how Oprea had been driving in the UK for just a few months before starting work for Tesco on 1st October, four days before the incident. He had held a HGV licence for 18 months, but before coming to the UK had been working mainly in Italy.
The court heard that a few days before the collision a driving assessor recommended Oprea needed to increase his use of nearside mirrors while he was driving.
The day of the collision with Dinsdale was Oprea’s first day working alone, and it was alleged he was not following the route provided by Tesco. However, Oprea’s counsel argued that he was following satnav directions.
In a victim impact statement Dinsdale described how her injuries had changed her life, telling the court how she had previously participated in marathons and cycling events all over the world. A week before the collision she had competed in the Three Peaks cyclocross event.
Keith Bontrager was riding behind her on the day of the incident, and witnessed the collision.
“Every aspect of my life remains difficult and my inability to return to work or pursue my sporting and active lifestyle is an immense loss to me and causes me great distress," said Dinsdale.
“What is of greatest concern is that the driver continues to drive HGVs – he is now working for Stobart. What has happened to me is devastating and I would hate for someone else to go through the same.”
She added that the leniency shown by the judge in this case demonstrated that "cyclists remain second class citizens on the roads in the UK."
Dinsdale’s lawyer Sally Moore, head of personal injury at Leigh Day, said:
“We will now be taking civil legal action against Mr. Oprea, and Tesco. It remains a problem at the core of British society that serious collisions involving cyclists are still regarded as par for the course, and appear to be treated as such by the courts.”