A pedestrian convicted of manslaughter after angrily waving at a cyclist causing her to fall into the path of an oncoming car has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Auriol Grey, 49, was caught on closed-circuit television video screaming at retired midwife Celia Ward, 77, to “get off the fucking pavement” as she approached in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.
A few seconds later, she lost her balance and fell onto the road, where she was hit by a VW Passat that was unable to stop.
She was pronounced dead at the scene moments later on October 20, 2020.
Gray, who has cerebral palsy, has denied manslaughter but was found guilty after an earlier retrial at Peterborough Crown Court.
Judge Sean Enright, sentencing Gray to three years in prison, said that “these actions are not justified by a disability.”
The court heard Gray gesticulating in a hostile and aggressive manner as the two headed in opposite directions “a common path on the bypass”.
Ms Ward’s widower, retired RAF pilot David Ward, said in a statement read to the court by prosecutor Simon Spence KC that “Celia’s final moments will haunt me forever”.
“Rarely does a day go by without thinking about her and our happy life together, but I can burst into tears as easily as I have on so many occasions,” he said.
He said they met in 1965 and in retirement enjoyed playing golf and seeing the world while on cruise vacations.
“I miss her terribly and after being on my own for a year and a half I felt the need to sell our 34 year old house and move to a retirement village near Romsey, Hampshire,” added Ward.
He said he did it to be closer to his family, including their daughter Gillian Hayter.
Ms Hayter spoke of the “senseless and unnecessary death of her mother lying on the road without those who loved her.”
The driver of the car that crashed into Ms Ward, Carla Money, who was with her two-year-old daughter at the time, said her life was “turned upside down” by what happened.
Miranda Moore KC, a mollifier for Grey, said: “What happened only took a moment that affected many.”
She said that “Grey’s current opinion is that where sidewalks are narrow, cyclists … should ride on the road.”
“There was no intention of harm or obvious risk of harm,” she said.
She said witnesses said Gray “seemed childish” and that she lived in an adapted special apartment.
In her police questioning, Gray told officers she was visually impaired and described the bicycle as moving rapidly in the middle of the sidewalk.
After the judge handed down the sentence on Thursday, Ms Moore said an appeal and an application for bail would be filed.
Detective Sergeant Mark Dollard, who led the investigation, said: “This is a difficult and tragic case.
“Everyone will have their own opinion about cyclists on footpaths and cycle paths, but it is clear that Gray’s reaction to Celia’s presence on the bike was completely disproportionate and ultimately deemed unlawful, leading to Celia’s untimely and unnecessary death.
“I am pleased with the verdict and I hope this is a clear reminder to all road users to look after each other.”
In a post-conviction police statement, Ward said: “After 53 years of happy marriage, Celia was taken from me in the most horrific way, leaving me with memories.
“She was kind, calm, careful, cheerful and competent in everything she did.
“Her death caused me great suffering. We relied on each other, shared the same sense of humor and outlook on life, and enjoyed each other’s company.
I miss her terribly.
Her daughter Gillian added in a police statement: “Celia Ward was my mum, my husband’s mother-in-law and my son’s much loved grandmother, but most of all the love of my father’s life.
“Her untimely death turned our world upside down, and not a day goes by that I don’t want to answer the phone to ask her advice, celebrate special events in our lives, or just tell her how much I love her.
“It’s easy to tell how wonderful my mum was…she was passionate about her family and was always there to help and support us.
“She was part of a generation that built and fixed, had a spotless home, and always put others first.
“Her death spoiled what should have been some of the happiest moments for us as a family.
“We will never forget the last two and a half years, but now it’s time to start remembering the wonderful memories and moments we had with my mum and hopefully find some peace.
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