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Ayasha Penfold avoids jail after admitting killing cyclist John Durey

By Paul Hooper

The Brenzett driver whose Mercedes struck and killed a cyclist has escaped a jail sentence.

Victim John Durey, 69 from Lenham, died from the injuries he received in the head-on accident on the A2070 near Ashford in May last year.

Now driver Ayasha Penfold, from King Street, has been banned from driving after admitting causing his death by driving carelessly.

Ayasha Penfold admitted killing cyclist John Durey by careless driving
Ayasha Penfold admitted killing cyclist John Durey by careless driving

Mr Durey, a respected engineer, lost his battle for life in June ... just three weeks before his son was to marry.

In a moving tribute, son Oliver told the sentencing judge at Canterbury Crown Court: “Dad was an inspirational father, who was always extremely patient and nurturing.

“He was a highly skilled engineer, involved in the design and development of components for projects, including the Euro Fighter and championship winning McLaren Formula 1.”

He said that his father “loved everything on two wheels” and in the 1970s raced 250cc motorbikes before moving to cycling.

He added: “This gave him a heightened awareness of safety on the road, whether on two wheels or four.”

Oliver added that his father’s injuries were “horrific”, adding: “And the sight of him lying in the trauma room will never leave me.”

He said that after battling his appalling injuries, the life support machine was turned off after doctors reported he would never recover.

“This trauma would have been hard enough at the best of times but sadly I was about to depart for my wedding three weeks later.

“Most pertinent for me at this moment is that my first born son of less than six weeks will never know the wonderful grandfather he will never meet.”

John Durey
John Durey

A jury at Canterbury Crown Court had failed to agree whether or not Penfold, 21, had been driving dangerously when she caused the fatal accident.

Crown prosecutors have since decided they will not be asking for a second trial after she had earlier pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.

Penfold had been driving her car when she overtook two vehicles on the A2070 in May last year, but she failed to spot the cyclist coming in the opposite direction.

Judge Rupert Lowe ruled the overtaking on the vehicles on the long straight road had not been, in itself, careless.

But he said Penfold’s lack of experience – she had only passed her test three or four months before the crash – may have contributed to the tragic accident because she had failed to spot the cyclist.

Her lawyer, Alastair MacDonald QC, revealed she had since been suffering from “survivor’s guilt” and had frequent nightmares where she saw Mr Durey’s face in her dreams.

“She sees Mr Durey in her mind, usually at night-time. It is a recurrent distressing dream.

“The effects of this incident, catastrophic for the Durey family, have also been to a lesser extent catastrophic for Ms Penfold. She has suffered deep-seated psychological consequences.”

He revealed that in April 2014 she had been involved as a passenger in a car accident in which she had suffered head and spine injuries.

Prosecutor Ahmed Hossain had revealed how the cyclist had been taking part in the organised speed trial event at 7.21pm in good weather on the long stretch of the road at Kingsnorth near Ashford.

John Durey
John Durey

The prosecutor said Mr Durey, who was cycling at 22mph in the correct lane, would have been visible to the driver for at least 45 seconds prior to the crash.

“She was driving in the opposite direction when her vehicle struck Mr Durey head-on, causing him severe injuries which resulted in his death on June 5 last year.

“The road was clear. There was good visibility and it was a straight passage of road.”

Penfold told the jury she had been to Ashford to visit friend and had not been in a rush to return home.

"I felt the lorry and car in front of me were moving slowly and I wanted to overtake them."

Penfold added she initially believed she had stopped before being struck by the cycle but later claimed she thought the lorry driver had moved out forcing her wider into the opposite carriageway.

Judge Lowe gave Penfold a 12-month community order and banned her from driving for 18 months.

“She sees Mr Durey in her mind, usually at night-time. It is a recurrent distressing dream" - Alastair MacDonald QC

He told her she had not been speeding and there had been no suggestion she had been drinking or had been distracted.

“You had completely failed to see Mr Durey coming in the opposite direction until it was too late for you to take corrective actions.”

He added: “Roads are sometimes thought by drivers to be built for the exclusive convenience of motor vehicles but most roads are built for cars to share with a variety of other road-users, including cyclists.

“I am persuaded that you are genuinely remorseful.”

Mr Durey junior also offered his “heartfelt thanks” to Kent Air Ambulance, staff at Kings College Hospital in London for their “professionalism, dedication and compassion; Kent police traffic unit for their professionalism, the CPS for bringing the case and their witnesses who gave evidence at the trial.

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