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Conviction of woman who caused cyclist to swerve into road is unsafe, court told


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The manslaughter trial of a pedestrian who shouted and waved at a cyclist, causing her to fall into the path of an oncoming car, went ahead on a “false legal footing”, the Court of Appeal has heard.

Auriol Grey was seen on CCTV shouting at retired midwife Celia Ward to “get off the f****** pavement” in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, causing her to fall into the road.

Grandmother Mrs Ward, 77, of Wyton, Cambridgeshire, died after she was struck by a car in the incident in October 2020.

Grey, who has cerebral palsy and partial blindness, denied manslaughter but was found guilty after a retrial and was jailed for three years in March 2023.

A CCTV image Celia Ward falling from her bike into the path of oncoming vehicle (Cambridgeshire Police/PA)
A CCTV image Celia Ward falling from her bike into the path of oncoming vehicle (Cambridgeshire Police/PA)

At a hearing on Wednesday, her lawyers made a bid to overturn her conviction at the Court of Appeal.
Grey, 50, sat behind her barristers in the London courtroom, wearing a black cardigan.

The court heard Grey was charged with unlawful act manslaughter – which requires an unlawful action to take place that caused death.

However, her lawyers told appeal judges that no such “base offence” was ever identified at the trial.

Adrian Darbishire KC, for Grey, said: “The trial seems to have proceeded on the basis that some kind of unlawfulness, undefined and unspecified, was sufficient to found this offence of homicide.”

The barrister said there was “entirely no base offence identified in this process”, adding that aspects of common assault were “wholly absent” from the steps given to the jury to follow when deciding if someone is guilty or not guilty.

He added: “The entire trial process and the preparation of such proceeded on a false legal footing.”
The court later heard Grey’s actions had been described as “hostile gesticulation” towards Mrs Ward.

Mr Darbishire said: “Hostile gesticulation is not a crime, otherwise we would have 50,000 football fans each weekend being apprehended.”

The barrister described Grey as having reduced vision and “significant physical impairment” on her right-hand side.

He told judges that the trial jury “needed less focus on hostility on her part” and more focus on “the reasonableness of not standing aside where her standing aside would involve moving to her right-hand side, her unfavoured side to let the cyclist past”.

Mr Darbishire later said that the jury could have said her actions were unnecessary, adding: “That certainly does not make her guilty of the offence of manslaughter … the evidence was clearly insufficient for the charge alleged.”

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is opposing the appeal.

Simon Spence KC, for the CPS, said it was accepted that “common assault as the base offence was not identified by name”.

Asked by the appeal judges what actions could have been deemed common assault if it had been identified, Mr Spence said: “The walking towards the cyclist, the gesticulation with her left arm towards the road and the words, ‘get off the f***** pavement’.

“Those words are capable of turning a gesture and nothing more into an unlawful act.”

The barrister said the actions could have caused Mrs Ward to have a fear of immediate unlawful force, ahead of her veering away from Grey and into the road.

He continued: “We say that is capable in law of amounting to an act of unlawful manslaughter.”

The hearing before Dame Victoria Sharp, Mrs Justice Yip and Mrs Justice Farbey is due to conclude on Wednesday.


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