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Ruby Milnes trial opens
A LORRY driver has told a jury he did not see a young cyclist, who died when their vehicles collided on land near York Racecourse.
A dog owner said Ruby Milnes, 17, “looked happy” as she cycled north on the York to Selby cycle route along the east side of the racecourse, shortly before the crash.
The jury heard Ruby died when her cycle hit a lorry driven by Stephen Todd, who was heading westwards across a junction where the cycle track crosses a private road running from Bishopthorpe Road past carparks used by racegoers to the area behind the racecourse's stands.
York Racecourse Ltd denies charges of failing to ensure the safety of people not in their employment and failure to carry out a risk assessment in connection with vehicles using the road before the accident on May 8, 2008.
Mr Todd said he had had an HGV licence since 1971 and had worked for Shepherd Construction Ltd for many years.
On May 8, he was delivering a portable toilet block to the stands area and driving along the private road. He said he was unaware there was a cycle track crossing the road before it swings to the right.
“"There was no-one, in the sense there was nobody about, and that is when we had the accident," he said at York Crown Court.
Asked if there was anything he could have done to stop the collision he replied: “No.”
Dog owner Susan Birch told the jury she was walking her dog at 4.30pm and had stopped at a bench along the cycle track south of the junction when she saw Ruby.
“I remember admiring her as she was on her bike. She had nice clothes on. She just looked happy,” she said. She didn't see the collision.
Alex Offer, opening the prosecution for the Health & Safety Executive, said Ruby was on her way home from York College heading towards Bishopthorpe Road and alleged there was no indication she saw the lorry.
On her right was a hedge that, according to the prosecution, prevented the lorry driver and cyclist from seeing each other until each was at the junction.
Mr Offer claimed neither person was responsible for the accident and claimed the racecourse authorities should have assessed the risk of lorries making deliveries along that road and minimised the risk to cyclists on the track. He said: “There are reasonable steps York Racecourse could have taken. You can see what they were because York Racecourse took them after May 8.”
Mr Offer alleged the racecourse authorities installed warning signs about the cycle track and a speed limit on the road and signs about the road on the cycle track. They also changed a gate at the junction so that was now impossible for a cyclist to ride out onto the road.
The trial continues.