A terrible precedent, often referred to as the example of Australian culture in public, law and the judicial system exonerating motor vehicle drivers of their cause of injury and death to vulnerable road users as excusable “accidents” rather than criminal act it would be seen as if carried out to another motor vehicle driver or with a weapon other than a motor vehicle.
Luke Michael Stevens walks from court on Monday after the not guilty verdict.
Gifted musician Richard Pollett died after being struck by a cement truck’s rear tyres as the driver attempted to overtake him on Moggill Rd in September 2011.
A CEMENT truck driver accused of driving dangerously and causing the death of cyclist and gifted musician Richard Pollett has been found not guilty.
The jury retired on Friday morning to consider its verdict after three days of evidence and submissions in the District Court trial in Brisbane, where driver Luke Michael Stevens, 29, pleaded not guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
It found Stevens not guilty of dangerous driving causing death on Monday at 10.49am.
Stevens had tears in his eyes as he stepped from the prisoner’s dock.
Pollet, 25, was killed after being struck by the cement truck’s rear tyres as the driver attempted to overtake him on Moggill Rd at Kenmore at 1.30pm on September 27, 2011.
His devastated parents Patricia and Philip Pollett said outside court they hoped their son’s death would remind motorists of their duty of care to one another on the state’s roads.
“We all have a duty of care to one another on the roads and we should remember that when all of us are using the roads,” Philip Pollett said.
“There is an increasing number of cyclists joining the roads for health reasons and for environmental reasons and we need to exercise that duty of care, especially the drivers of heavy vehicles and especially professional drivers who should know to give cyclists sufficient room.”
Judge Michael Rackemann thanked the jury for their efforts during the hearing but told the court he had been left with an “empty feeling”.
“It is such an empty feeling in this case because we’d all like to do something to relieve the hurt,” he said.
“I can only hope that everyone involved and their families can somehow come to peace in their hearts.”
Pollett was a talented violinist and at the time of his death was in Brisbane to play as a soloist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
His peers established the Richard Pollett Memorial Award with the Australian Youth Orchestra to honour his memory and to provide support and encouragement to young violinists after his death.
During the trial, the jury was told Stevens had been driving inbound when he attempted to overtake Mr Pollett in the far left-hand lane of Moggill Rd.
Crown prosecutor Michael Lehane said scratches, gouge marks and “body scuff marks” were found by officers from the Boondall Forensic Crash Unit as far back as 25m from the place where Mr Pollett’s body came to rest.
The court heard the force of the impact shattered Mr Pollett’s bike helmet. It was told his body had to be disentangled from his mangled bike.
He said Mr Pollett was “vulnerable” as a cyclist and any contact with a vehicle would have obviously “significantly imperilled his life”.
Mr Lehane told the jury a heavy vehicle could be more difficult and take longer to manoeuvre.
“The accused should have had an appreciation for how vulnerable Mr Pollett was and insight into how unsettling his vehicle could be,” he said.
Mr Lehane argued the road conditions, the vulnerability of Mr Pollett and the restricted capabilities of the heavy vehicle he was driving, should have led Stevens to “put his foot on the brake” as he approached the cyclist.
Barrister Steve Zillman, for Stevens, told the jury his client was going about his lawful business and driving in a responsible way on the day of the accident.
He said Stevens was not driving erratically or speeding and was effectively “boxed in” by other cars as he approached Mr Pollett on his bike.
Mr Zillman said Stevens was under “the honest and reasonable belief” there was enough room on the road to safely overtake him.
He cited the evidence of eye-witness Maxwell Roy Clothier, which contended that Mr Pollett may have come into contact with the cement truck near to the intersection with Blacon St – a straight section of road before the left-hand bend – and therefore “had the option” of turning down it if he felt unsafe.
Mr Zillman said there was no evidence the truck caused Mr Pollett to come off his bike and he could have fallen off as a result of “any number of reasons”.
“It’s not good enough to say it’s a coincidence,” he said.
The jury heard Moggill Rd was narrow, winding and the width of the left-hand lane expanded and reduced between 3.1m and 3.6m near to the accident scene, without signage notifying motorists of the change.