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Dagenham BMX rider jailed over fiancee's death

Barking and Dagenham Post: Dagenham BMX rider jailed over fiancee’s death

04 January 2010

A BMX rider whose teenage fiancee was killed when he rode into oncoming traffic while giving her a lift on his defective bike has been jailed.

Kevin Simmons, 25, of Bell Farm Avenue, Dagenham had worn-out brakes and no lights on the bike as he drove from a park on to a dual carriageway in Dagenham, with 16-year-old trainee hairdresser Natalie Lee perched on the bicycle’s rear axle "stunt pegs".

They careered into the path of motorist Mark Powell, whose Jeep Cherokee collided with the BMX, flinging Miss Lee into the path of a Ford Fiesta. Mr Powell and the Fiesta driver were not to blame for the Christmas Eve tragedy last year outside Central Park, the court heard.

Simmons was jailed for a year, of which he will serve half before being released, after admitting causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

The Victorian law still applies to cyclists responsible for road deaths and carries a maximum sentence of two years.

Judge David Radford said: "A similar offence involving the dangerous driving of a motor car would carry a maximum sentence of 14 years. The disparity is an obvious and striking one."

He told Simmons: "You acted wholly recklessly in the riding of your bicycle."

The judge said Miss Lee’s family, who were too upset to comment after the hearing, would suffer "life-long grief and distress" as a result.

Prosecutor Sirah Abraham told Snaresbrook Crown Court Miss Lee, was standing upright and holding on to the defendant’s shoulders.

She said: "He [Simmons] was coming out of the park gates and travelling between five and 10mph and came out on to Rainham Road North.

"Mr Simmons failed to stop and drove straight in the path of Mr Powell who was driving his Jeep Cherokee."

The court heard Mr Powell braked but was too late and Mr Simmons hit the Jeep’s windscreen. Miss Lee was thrown into the road and Charlotte Lee, who was driving behind in a Fiesta, moved to the nearside lane to avoid a collision with the Jeep. But in doing so, struck Miss Lee who was thrown into her path.

Miss Lee was conscious when the police arrived, but died later from head injuries in Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

The BMX bike was examined and both brakes were worn out, the court heard.

"There were no lights or audible warning instruments fitted to the BMX bike and neither person on the bike was wearing a helmet," said Miss Abraham said.

"It failed to give way to the traffic on the main road, possibly due to the brakes.

"Mr Powell, driving the Jeep, was given insufficient time to react and avoid the collision," she said.

"Miss Charlotte Lee, who was driving the Fiesta behind, had insufficient time to react and avoid Miss Lee."

Tara McCarthy, mitigating, said shutterfitter Simmons was devastated and living with the consequences of the crash.

She said: "Following on from the accident, Mr Simmons did attend Natalie’s funeral and he has had an opportunity to speak with her mother. I think there is general acknowledgement that it’s a terrible situation all round.