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No verdicts in the trial of York Racecourse on health and safety charges over the death of Ruby Milnes
THE FIVE-YEAR wait for the family of tragic cyclist Ruby Milnes goes on after a jury failed to reach verdicts in the York Racecourse trial.
The racecourse’s owners faced health and safety charges related to her death on the York to Selby cycle track when she was in collision with a delivery lorry.
At the end of an 11-day trial and ten hours in retirement at York Crown Court, the jury of three men and nine women announced they could not agree on any verdicts and were discharged.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the case, has yet to decide whether to ask for a retrial.
Ruby’s parents David and Allison Milnes said the time waiting for the trial had been “very difficult”
Ruby died as she cycled home along the York to Selby cycle track on May 8, 2008, when she was in collision with a lorry that was travelling along a private road that crosses the track near the Bishopthorpe Road racecourse car parks.
The racecourse is alleged to have failed to carry out a risk assessment of the road – cycle track junction and to have failed to ensure the safety of members of the public when receiving deliveries. It denied both charges.
At 2.15pm yesterday, after receiving a note from the jury, the Recorder of York Judge Stephen Ashurst called the jurors back into court.
The court clerk asked the jury foreman: “Have the jury reached verdicts upon which at least ten of you are agreed on either of the counts?”
He replied “No”.
The judge asked him if there was any further prospect of a verdict and the foreman replied: “No”. The jury was then discharged.
After the jury was discharged, the HSE’s barrister Alex Offer told York Crown Court no decision had been made over whether to have a retrial.
He said: “Given the age of this case it will need to be carefully considered,” he said. “I can see there are arguments both ways. It is an open question at this point and must remain so.”
He expected to have an answer within two weeks. York Racecourse declined to comment.
Parents’ disappointment over failure
Ruby Milne’s parents David and Allison issued this statement to The Press, following the jury’s failure to reach a verdict: “We’re hugely disappointed the jury couldn’t reach a verdict. The case took an extraordinarily long time to reach court, which was very difficult for our family. Ruby’s younger brothers and sisters have grown up in the shadow of this tragedy and with this case always looming.
"We’d looked forward to finally being able to put it behind us. The court experience was extremely hard. We’re grateful to witnesses such as Sarah Tweedie who addressed the court about the dangers she saw at the site. York Racecourse operations manager Tony Lee’s testimony was honest and moving in the regret he expressed.
"We’d particularly like to thank the HSE for investigating the case, which they clearly felt was important. They took care to explain what was happening at every stage and share our disappointment in the time it took to prosecute and the inconclusive nature of the result.
"We hope, despite the inconclusive result, the publicity this case has engendered to date will prompt all organisations to consider the safety of cyclists passing through their areas of control. Hopefully, it’ll be Ruby’s legacy to be the last cyclist killed in this way.”