Disabled woman who gestured for cyclist to get off pavement gets 3 years for manslaughter
A PARTIALLY sighted pedestrian who forced an elderly cyclist off the pavement into the path of a car was jailed for manslaughter yesterday.
Auriol Grey, 49, gestured in a ‘hostile and aggressive way’ towards retired midwife Celia Ward, 77, and shouted ‘get off the f****** pavement’ as they approached each other.
Harrowing CCTV footage shows grandmother Mrs Ward wobble into the road where she was hit by a VW Passat. Grey had claimed Mrs Ward was travelling ‘fast’ and she was ‘anxious’ about being hit, leading to her swearing and waving her arm.
But the court was told the ‘childlike’ defendant acted ‘territorially’ and had shown no remorse following the incident in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, in October 2020.
Sentencing Grey to three years in prison, Judge Sean Enright said she had been ‘territorial’ about the pavement and had given a ‘dishonest account’ in her police interview. He acknowledged her disabilities, including cerebral palsy and cognitive difficulties, but added: ‘It does not reduce your understanding of right or wrong.’
Mrs Ward’s devastated daughter, Gillian Hayter, told Peterborough Crown Court: ‘ The news that it was not a tragic accident but a deliberate act of violence was incomprehensible.’
Carla Money, who was driving the car that hit Mrs Ward, said Grey’s ‘selfish actions’ had left her with post-traumatic stress disorder which had affected her relationship with her two young children and led to the collapse of her marriage.
There was ‘always a piece of me that feels guilty’, she added.
Mrs Ward’s husband of 53 years, retired RAF pilot David, said after the hearing that her death had caused him ‘great suffering’, adding: ‘I miss her terribly.’
Judge Enright described the 8ft-wide pavement as a ‘shared cycleway’ and told Grey she would not have been ‘taken by surprise’ when a bike approached her. The Highways Act 1835 made it illegal to cycle on a pavement, with a fine of up to £500. Since 1999, those who flout the law can also receive a fixed penalty notice. However, both Labour and Conservative ministers have made it clear that police should use discretion towards ‘responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users’.
Yesterday’s sentencing triggered a debate online, with one person commenting: ‘Should be five years [in jail].’ But another wrote: ‘So wrong. What a travesty of justice.’
Duncan Dollimore, of Cycling UK, said: ‘This is a truly tragic case... it clearly highlights the importance of not over-reacting when in a road environment and consequently putting others at risk.’
Dr Rachel Lee, the policy and research manager of charity Living Streets, said: ‘Narrow footways are not suitable for shared use by pedestrians and cyclists.’
Grey is planning to appeal against her sentence.