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|11-11-2014, 06:10 AM||#1|
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US tourist who turned into the path of motorcyclist cleared of death charges
Barbara Ardell shouted Praise the Lord as she was cleared of causing death by careless driving
AN American tourist who turned into the path of a motorcyclist when carrying out a right hand turn has been cleared of causing death by careless driving.
Prison officer Paul Todd, 57, died of chest injuries when his Honda CBR1100XX collided with a rented Skoda Fabia being driven by Barbara Ardell at the Culcabock road junction with Kingsmills road in Inverness, Scotland, on 18 July last year.
Ardell, a business consultant from Dunwoody in Georgia, told a jury she checked that the road was clear before carrying out the manoeuvre.
The jury heard evidence from witnesses driving on the road who suspected Mr Todd had been exceeding the speed limit when he overtook vehicles approaching a set of traffic lights just before the incident.
Officers from the police collision investigation unit estimated that the motorcycle was travelling between 31mph and 40mph from the point the brakes locked as he tried to avoid the collision.
Ardell pleaded not guilty to causing the death of Mr Todd, stating she had travelled to the UK six times before and had experience of driving on the left hand side of the road in both the UK and Australia.
She said she had already used the junction to get to the guesthouse with her husband, where they were staying during their trip to England and Scotland.
‘I looked to see if there was anything coming and it was completely clear. So I turned and of course I needed to know where I’m going so I looked to see if there were any pedestrians or a car that had not cleared the intersection.
‘Just out of my peripheral vision I caught a flash and a bang.
‘I turned to my husband and said, “What in heaven’s name was that?”’
Ardell said she later told the police that it was as if something had fallen out of the sky.
‘I sat and said “Oh my . Oh my . I was just stunned. Then I realised it was a motorcycle.
‘Eventually I opened the door. I was afraid to get out. I was afraid I would fall over.’
Retired police officer John Hier, a trained collision investigator, said that after revisiting the scene, he was comfortable that the motorcycle had completed the overtake and was back on the correct side of the road, and Ardell would have been able to se Mr Todd.
The verdict was finally made last week where it took jurors only 30 minutes to find Ardell not guilty, after hearing conflicting opinions from police regarding the accident.
James Allan, a former Central Scotland Police inspector turned independent traffic consultant, said a report put together by his former colleagues was inaccurate.
He told defence counsel Mark Moir: ‘The police reconstruction using an officer on a police bike with its headlight illuminated, wearing a high-viz jacket and white helmet was not an accurate reconstruction. It was seriously flawed.
‘Mr Todd was in an all black outfit, on a black bike and wearing a black helmet, so he would not have easily been seen.’
Barbara Ardell reportedly shouted ‘Praise the Lord’ as she was cleared of all charges.
She said: ‘I want to thank and my family and friends for the comfort and support I have received during this long and difficult ordeal.
‘But I also want to express my deepest sympathy for the family of Mr Todd who have suffered a terrible loss.
‘I have always believed in my innocence and was determined to return from my home in Georgia to prove it. It has been very costly but worth it. The truth has come out at last.
Mr Todd’s family could not be contacted last week.
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