Jehovah’s Witness jailed for cyclist’s death while looking at photos

Minibus Driver Jailed for Death of Cyclist – BBC News, Southeast Wales, August 28, 2014

A minibus driver faces five years in jail for killing a cyclist, whom he hit while looking at photographs on his mobile phone. The driver told police that “the cyclist swerved” in front of him causing the accident.

Owain Richard James, 30, died after being hit by Andrzej Wojcicki. Wojcicki had been accused of viewing pictures of vintage sports cars on his cell phone while driving his vehicle. Cardiff Crown Court heard evidence that Wojcicki, 45, of Blackwood, was “distracted” as he drove at 50 mph on the A472 near Newbridge.

During the trial, the jury heard how Wojcicki been driving back from a Jehovah’s Witnesses convention in a large minibus with his wife and children. The court heard evidence that he had been taking and viewing pictures on his mobile phone as he drove the two-and-a-half ton bus along the south Wales road.

Wojcicki was found guilty of “causing death by dangerous driving.” Judge David Wyn Morgan declared, “Mr. James didn’t stand a chance.”

When he was hit, Mr. James was thrown into the air by the impact and hit the bonnet and windscreen before falling into the road. The judge emphasized that Mr. James “didn’t stand a chance” when he was hit by Wojcicki’s minibus.

Owain James, cyclist killed in accident with distracted driver driving mini-bus.
Owain James, cyclist killed in an accident with distracted mini-bus driver returning from Jehovah’s Witness convention.

During the trial, Wojcicki denied using his mobile phone while driving and his defense counsel told the court there was no evidence he had actually been using his phone at the time of the collision or beforehand. Lord Harley, representing Mr Wojcicki, told the court he was a “diligent driver” and said Mr. James had swerved in front of the minibus and did not give the defendant the chance to brake in time.

“For him to come into the path of my client took less than a second. It was all over in a second,” he added.

But Nicholas Jones, prosecuting, said: “The driver never saw the cyclist because he was distracted until after he collided with him. Because Wojcicki was driving dangerously, he caused the death of Mr James. It is as simple as that. You do not take pictures while you are driving along and then look at them.”

The jury took seven hours to find him guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

Judge David Wyn Morgan told him: “You were paying little if any attention to the road in front of you. The visibility was excellent and the traffic was minimal – if you had been looking you couldn’t have failed to be aware of the cyclist.

“The distraction which caused this was your use of the mobile telephone for taking pictures of cars. The use of a mobile telephone to examine images while driving is every bit as dangerous as texting. You were driving a three-tonne minibus – Mr James didn’t stand a chance.”

Wojcicki was also banned from driving for 10 years.

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