James Bryan Trial: Harrogate Porsche driver found not guilty of death by dangerous driving
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James Bryan, 37, was rushing to get some shopping for his parents during the Covid lockdown when his Porsche Carrera 911 ploughed into the back of a bicycle ridden by married father-of-two Andrew Jackson, 36, on the A168 between Wetherby and Boroughbridge, York Crown Court heard.
The prosecution claimed that at the time of the collision, Mr Bryan had been using his mobile and pointed to evidence that showed his Facebook and Instagram accounts were open.
A jury at York Crown Court essentially had to decide the case on the single issue of whether Mr Bryan had been using his phone at the time of the fatal crash, which occurred on the afternoon of May 10, 2020.
Mr Bryan denied he was using his phone.
After deliberating long into the afternoon today (September 23), the jury found him not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.
However, he had already admitted causing death by careless driving and will be sentenced for that offence in October.
During the trial, which began earlier this week, prosecutor Anne Richardson alleged that in the moments before the crash at Allerton Park, Mr Bryan must have been distracted by “something” because Mr Jackson was clearly visible.
She claimed that evidence showed he must have been looking at, scrolling through, or reading posts on social media.
Mr Bryan had taken cocaine and been drinking at his friend’s house in Cheshire the night before the fatal collision at Rabbit Hill Park.
A roadside test in the aftermath of the crash showed that although he wasn’t over the limit for either drink or drugs, there were traces of cocaine, or a cocaine breakdown product, in his system.
Ms Richardson claimed that Bryan, who celebrated his 35th birthday just two days before the accident, would have been impaired by the drugs in his system and from being hungover and tired from the alcohol and festivities the night before.
He was on the way to drop some groceries off at his parents’ house who were isolating during the Covid lockdown when the accident occurred at about 1.40pm.
“The front of the Porsche collided with the rear of Mr Jackson’s bike and Andrew Jackson came off his bike, went up in the air and hit his head on the windscreen and roof of the car, and landed on the road behind the car,” added the prosecutor.
“He was pronounced dead at the scene by an off-duty intensive-care consultant.”
She added: “This is an incredibly sad case. A young mother has lost her husband and father to two (very young) children. Her in-laws have lost their only son.”
Mr Bryan, of St Mary’s Avenue, Harrogate, was arrested and charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
He denied the allegation but admitted causing death by careless driving in that he didn’t leave enough room to drive around the bicycle.
Ms Richardson claimed that Mr Bryan’s driving was dangerous because he “wasn’t looking at the road ahead of him” as his car approached Mr Jackson.
Mr Bryan - who had been at a birthday barbecue in Wilmslow the night before and set off for home early the following morning - called 999 moments after the accident and told a call operator he thought the cyclist was dead.
Other motorists, including the off-duty doctor and his medically trained wife, were on the scene in minutes and called police and an ambulance, but Mr Jackson had already died from head injuries.
Forensic analysis of Mr Bryan’s phone showed that it was unlocked in the moments before the crash and the Instagram and Facebook apps were open.
Mr Bryan was taken in for questioning and told police that Mr Jackson, who lived locally, “came out of nowhere” but then claimed the cyclist had veered into the middle of the road and that he had tried to overtake him, only for the cyclist to “swerve into my path”.
An accident investigator who carried out a reconstruction of the accident said the bike was not in the middle of the road, but on the edge of the carriageway, near a grass verge, and that Mr Bryan had not tried to move around the bicycle.
In one message found on Mr Bryan’s phone on the way back from Cheshire, he told a friend he was hungover from the night before and was “concerned about being late for his parents with their shopping”.
In another sent by Mr Bryan to a female friend while he was at the birthday party the previous night, he told her: “I’m so drunk I can’t see.”
Defence barrister Sophia Dower claimed that Mr Bryan was in a “fit and proper state” to drive and was not using his phone at the time of the crash.
She claimed that Mr Jackson’s bike had veered right from the edge of the road into the path of Mr Bryan’s black Porsche, and that her client “didn’t have enough time to react”.
The off-duty doctor who was at the scene said Mr Jackson had suffered a serious head injury and his helmet was broken.
Mr Bryan will be sentenced on October 21.