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Last Updated: Monday, 4 June 2007, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Cycle deaths road 'not gritted'
Pictured clockwise: Thomas Harland, Wayne Wilkes, Maurice Broadbent, Dave Horrocks
The four cyclists had just started out on a long Sunday training ride
A road on which four members of Rhyl Cycling Club were killed in a collision was not gritted on the morning of the tragedy, an inquest jury has heard.

Thomas Harland, 14, Maurice Broadbent, 61, Dave Horrocks, 55, and Wayne Wilkes, 42, died in January 2006 after a car skidded on ice near Abergele.

Day one of the inquest heard from the father of the youngest victim.

Coroner John Hughes warned the jury the hearing at Abergele would be emotional, but added: "No one is on trial here".

Addressing the jury on Monday, Mr Hughes told them they would hear how the route was not one gritted by Conwy Council on the morning of 8 January, despite frost having been forecast.

This is going to be a case of high emotion. You must remain aloof from the emotion
Coroner John Hughes

Mr Hughes, coroner for North East Wales, also said there had been another accident near the scene on the same morning, and the police had been in touch with the council about conditions on the road.

Two police officers contacted their control room after briefly losing control of their Ford Galaxy that morning, the inquest heard.

Mr Hughes said evidence they would hear would vary from those who thought the condition of the road was "appalling," to those who did not notice any adverse conditions.

He also told the jury they would have to consider whether it was safe for cyclists to be out.

He then warned them: "This is going to be a case of high emotion. You must remain aloof from the emotion."

The four cyclists died on the A547 Rhuddlan Road not far from the start of a 60-mile (97km) Sunday club ride to Llandudno's Great Orme and back.

Experts

Motorist Robert Harris, 47, from Abergele, was fined 180 with 35 costs last August and given six points on his licence after admitting having defective tyres.

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

The coroner said: "Experts say it matters not whether the tyres were bald or brand new. It's a question of ice on the road."

Accident scene
Defective car tyres were not a "contributory factor," a court heard

On the first day of the inquest, the heartbroken father of Thomas Harland, the youngest victim, described how the family had been robbed of an "unforgettable" son and brother.

Jon Harland was cycling with his son and broke a leg in the collision.

He told the inquest: "Thomas was an unforgettable boy.

"Sharon, my wife, and myself couldn't have brought up a better son and brother for Jessica and Sally. He was caring and considerate. He was good academically and athletically.

"Everyone who knew him warmed to him. He was happy right to the end when he was stolen from us."

The coroner has previously criticised delays on the full inquest getting under way.

Before Mr Harland gave evidence, Mr Hughes told him: "I'm far from happy it's taken this long to get the case before court.

"I'm sure it must have prolonged your agony unnecessarily."

The court also heard from Susan Broadbent, whose husband Maurice was killed.

She said her husband was a founder member of the cycling club, adding: "Everything was for safety. He wouldn't have gone out that day if he felt it was dangerous."

The inquest, which continues, is expected to last up to six weeks, and will hear from around 200 witnesses.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
"The members of Rhyl cycling club were like a family"



SEE ALSO
Compensation for cyclists' deaths
05 Apr 07 |  North East Wales
Four cyclists killed in car crash
08 Jan 06 |  North West Wales

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