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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Jury reaches cycle deaths verdict
Pictured clockwise: Thomas Harland, Wayne Wilkes, Maurice Broadbent, Dave Horrocks
The four cyclists had just started on their 60-mile ride
An inquest jury has reached verdicts on four cyclists killed after being hit by an out-of-control car on an icy road.

The coroner was told they will be narrative verdicts: factual statements on the events leading to the deaths.

The jury has several points, but the full narrative is not yet prepared, and the hearing was adjourned to Wednesday.

Thomas Harland, 14, Maurice Broadbent, 61, Dave Horrocks, 55, and Wayne Wilkes, 42, died near Abergele, Conwy, on 8 January, 2006.

Robert Harris, whose Toyota Corolla collided with them, was later fined after admitting having defective tyres.

The Abergele inquest has been hearing evidence for more than three weeks.

In a case filled with both emotion and drama, the jury has heard from Jonathan Harland, who was riding alongside his son Thomas, seconds before the teenager was killed in the collision.

During the second week of the inquest, a statement which Mr Harland gave to police just days after his son's death was read to the court.

He cannot and does not see a member of his own family without feeling the pain of the bereaved's losses
Peter Freeman, Robert Harris' barrister

In that statement, Mr Harland had said he felt no anger towards Mr Harris.

However, a day after the original statement was read to the inquest jury, Mr Harland's barrister, William Hoskins, read another statement outlining how those feelings had changed.

Mr Hoskins said: "He has asked me to make clear to the jury the following - that he was interviewed a couple of days after the tragedy whilst still very much in a bewildered state.

"He says, 'It was accurate and true at the time. However I have felt for many months nothing but anger towards the driver who killed my son and three of my best friends'."

A week later, the inquest heard from Mr Harris, who said he was "very possibly" driving too fast for the icy conditions, and that he often wished he had died instead of the cyclists.

Robert Harris
Robert Harris expressed his deepest sympathies to the families

Mr Harris, 47, from Abergele, was on his way to B&Q, where he worked as a security guard on the morning of the tragedy.

He said in the statement he constantly recalled the "tragic day" and "did not set out intending to harm or even upset anyone".

He added: "As a family man Mr Harris struggles to comprehend the impact of the bereaved's sudden and terrible losses.

"He cannot and does not see a member of his own family without feeling the pain of the bereaved's losses."

In August last year, Mr Harris was fined 180 with 35 costs and given six points on his licence after admitting having defective tyres.

However the court heard that the defective tyres were not a factor in the accident.

The issue over whether the road was gritted before the collision also played a crucial role in the inquest.

The jury heard how North Wales Police had informed Conwy Council's highways department that roads needed gritting.

It followed a motorist complaining of skidding on a bridge in the Towyn area just after 0800 GMT, about two hours before the fatal collision.

Accident scene
The inquest heard how the road had not been gritted

Inspector Jane Banham told the hearing she expected the council to review the state of all roads in the area following that call.

She said an officer asked her a short time later for parts of the A547 near the crash scene also to be gritted due to problems with ice.

However, she told the inquest she did not contact Conwy Council with that specific request.

The gritting issue was a controversial one even before the inquest began.

Coroner John Hughes repeatedly criticised delays in getting the hearing underway, caused by a delay in supplying gritting records to the police.

In December last year, Mr Hughes said the delays could suggest a "cover-up" from the families' perspectives.

At the time, he said: "Almost one year on and we owe it to the families to deal with it as expediently as possible."




SEE ALSO
Cycle driver 'wished he was dead'
21 Jun 07 |  North East Wales
Cycle tragedy gritting 'mistake'
20 Jun 07 |  North East Wales
Cycle death driver 'not speeding'
15 Jun 07 |  North East Wales
Cycle death father tells of anger
14 Jun 07 |  North East Wales

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