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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2007, 18:06 GMT
New anger over cyclists' inquest
Pictured clockwise: Thomas Harland, Wayne Wilkes, Maurice Broadbent, Dave Horrocks
The cyclists were killed by a car during a Sunday morning club ride
A coroner has again criticised delays on an inquest for four cyclists killed in a crash with a car over a year ago.

Rhyl Cycling Club members Thomas Harland, 14, Maurice Broadbent, 61, Dave Horrocks, 55, and Wayne Wilkes, 42, died on 8 January 2006.

A hearing in Prestatyn heard that there had been delays obtaining a full statement from a key witness.

North-east Wales coroner John Hughes called it "totally unsatisfactory" as he adjourned the hearing for a month.

On the anniversary of the deaths, the cycling club's president Bill Twigg said the loss was still "deeply and keenly felt by all".

The cyclists died on the A547 Rhuddlan Road near Abergele, near the start of a 60-mile (97km) club training ride.

I find it very difficult to tolerate the idea that barristers run my investigation
Coroner John Hughes

Motorist Robert Harris, 47, lost control after skidding on black ice and collided with the group of 12 cyclists.

Mr Harris was fined in August for having three defective tyres at the time of the crash, although magistrates said this was not a "contributory factor" in the "tragic accident".

Directive

In December the coroner said there needed to be greater communication between Conwy Council and the police after it emerged there had been a delay in the council supplying gritting records to officers.

He said then there was a danger the families of the deceased might think there was a cover-up.

Mr Hughes also put into force his powers to direct the council to make available witnesses within 28 days, and issued a similar directive on a former council employee.

Accident scene
The inquest delays involve gaining the council's gritting records

But on Thursday, a second preliminary hearing was told there had been new delays concerning the statement of one man, Robert Emlyn Williams.

The inquest heard that Mr Williams attended North Wales Police headquarters in Colwyn Bay last week with a legal representative.

A written statement was submitted - despite the coroner's instructions that a "proper police interview" be conducted.

The inquest heard how officers had since sought answers to further questions but there had not yet been a response.

Questions

Mr Hughes said the decision to submit a written pre-prepared statement was "directly in contravention of the direction I had made".

The coroner told solicitor Iram Mushtaq, appearing for Mr Williams: "I find it very difficult to tolerate the idea that barristers run my investigation."

Ms Mushtaq said Mr Williams had cooperated at every step and had nothing to hide.

She said her firm had taken instructions from Mr Williams only in December and the Christmas holidays had prevented work being completed sooner.

She said answers to outstanding questions would be completed by 4pm on Friday.

Mr Hughes said: "I have to say I find the whole of this totally unsatisfactory. I don't accept your excuses because that's what I think they are."

He said he did not think justice was being served and it was an "enormous amount of regret" that he adjourned for a month for a third preliminary hearing.

He added: "Let me make it quite plain, there will be no, repeat, no, extension of time for whatever feeble excuses."




SEE ALSO
Four cyclists killed in car crash
08 Jan 06 |  North West Wales

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