Lorry driver who caused death of Birmingham Children’s Hospital doctor jailed
Robert Bradbury was found guilty of causing death by careless driving after jurors were told his view was obstructed by an in-cab tray-table.
A lorry driver who killed a hospital doctor after failing to see her because of a tray-table on his dashboard has been jailed for 21 months.
Robert Bradbury – who was criticised in court for saying the death of cyclist Suzanna Bull was “six of one and half a dozen of the other” – was also handed a 34-month driving ban at Birmingham Crown Court.
The 50-year-old haulier was found guilty at a previous hearing of causing death by careless driving after jurors were told his view was obstructed by a fan and other items stored on an in-cab table.
Before passing sentence on Friday, Judge Paul Farrer QC said he had detected no signs during the trial that Bradbury believed he was to blame over the death of 32-year-old Dr Bull, a University of Birmingham graduate who grew up in Farnsfield, Nottinghamshire.
The Birmingham Children’s Hospital doctor died from “catastrophic” injuries at the scene in Pershore Road, Edgbaston, on October 9, 2017.
Ruling that Bradbury had been driving with his view obscured at least seven months prior to the tragedy, the judge told the haulier: “Appropriate punishment in this case can only be achieved by way of immediate custody.”
The judge also sentenced Bradbury’s former employer, Coleshill-based S&J Transport, which admitted an offence under health and safety law by failing to supervise the use of the tables.
Fining the family-run firm £112,500 and ordering it to pay £3,000 in costs, the judge said: “S&J were aware that several of their drivers were driving with these tables in place.
“In that knowledge the company failed over a significant period of time.”
The judge added: “Dr Bull was cycling in a dedicated cycle lane. She cannot be criticised.
“This accident represents a tragedy of indescribable proportions for both Suzanna Bull and her family and friends.
“It is apparent that she was a bright, enthusiastic and compassionate young woman.”
A two-week trial was told Bradbury failed to see Dr Bull’s bicycle three metres in front of his cab, having been told the tray-table and items on it posed a viewing “hazard” during a routine inspection months before the death.
Opening the case against Bradbury at the start of the trial, prosecutor Michael Duck QC said Bradbury had overtaken Dr Bull, who was out cycling with her brother, around 30 seconds before the fatal incident.
Alleging that Bradbury was driving dangerously at the time of the fatal collision, Mr Duck told the court a tray-table, a sat-nav system, a fan, ornaments and other items had been placed on the centre of the 32-tonne Scania’s dashboard.
Outlining the circumstances of the “tragic and disturbing” death, Mr Duck said Dr Bull had been in a designated cycle lane and was up to three-and-a-half metres in front of the Scania before it turned left and struck her.
The court was told Bradbury, of Cambridge Way, Acocks Green, pulled up at a red light at the junction of Pershore Road and Priory Road behind a van, but failed to see Dr Bull on his nearside as he turned left and she headed straight on.
In a victim impact statement to the court before sentence was passed, Dr Bull’s father, Peter, said his daughter was adventurous and was always trying to help those less fortunate than herself.
Dr Bull and her mother were “best friends as well as mother and daughter” and her life had been taken away on the brink of a career she had strived so hard to achieve, the victim’s father added.
The trial had revealed an abject failure on the part of the driver, said Mr Bull, who added: “The lack of any apology or show of remorse was present for all to see.”