Crowdfunding brings tragic cycle death case to court

By Kitty Knowles 14 September 2016
A 'ghost bike' marks a site where a cyclists died on the roads. Pic: CC/Flickr/fstorr

A dark new crowdfunding trend is coming.

A heart-wrenching 107 cyclists died on UK roads in 2014.

Newspapers told us about the passions of the deceased, of their promising talents, and their distraught friends and relatives.

What you might not know however, is that cycling deaths do not automatically go through the courts.

It’s actually up to individual police forces to decide whether or not to pass cases on to the Crown Prosecution Service, leaving some traumatised families without closure.

That’s why we’re starting to see what could well become a dark new trend – crowdfunding to bring cycle death cases to court.

Crowdfunding cycle death cases

Michael Mason, a 70-year-old teacher, was knocked down on Regent Street in London in February 2014. He died 19 days later.

The Metropolitan police decided not to pass the case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

This week however, the woman accused of causing his death has become the first person to face a crowdfunded private prosecution.

Cycling charity, the Cyclists’ Defence Fund, raised almost £64,000 on JustGiving to bring Gail Purcell to court – where magistrates heard that she had been speeding.

Purcell will stand trial at Southwark crown court next month.

Desperate times

If Purcell is found guilty, this will undoubtedly raise questions over the way police currently handle cycle deaths in Britain – you can imagine the outcry if it’s found that dangerous drivers are slipping unpunished through loopholes in the law.

However we also predict that – whatever the outcome of the case – it’s unlikely to be the last of its kind.

If you lose a loved one, it’s understandable you want to be 100% certain that justice takes place, and that anyone responsible is held to account.

As crowdfunding becomes more prominent than ever, this is a trend driven by desperation and despair, and it’s one that’s likely to rise.

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