A young cyclist was fatally injured at a notorious junction in central London when a skip lorry turned left across her path, the Old Bailey was told today.
Janina Gehlau, a 26-year-old German postgraduate student who had been in London for the first month of a three-month study break, died in hospital after the collision in Ludgate Circus on October 17, 2014.
Lorry driver Vincent Doyle is accused of causing Mrs Gehlau’s death by careless driving.
The trial, which will include CCTV images from the Evans bike shop in Farringdon Street and from a bus, is expected to last several days.
Prosecutor Allison Hunter told the court that Mr Doyle had overtaken Mrs Gehlau on Farringdon Street before coming to a halt at traffic lights at the junction with Ludgate Hill 200m further down the road.
The lorry was waiting at the traffic lights for 23 seconds and had its indicators on and an audible alarm – “stand clear, this vehicle is turning left” – sounding.
She said that Mrs Gehlau, who was wearing bright clothing and a white cycle helmet, would have been visible in the lorry’s three mirrors and a Trixi mirror attached to the traffic lights for between three to five seconds as she approached the lights on a cycle lane on the inside of the vehicle. She had been visiting an exhibition at the Barbican.
Doyle, 45, of Brent, who the court was told previously had an “unblemished driving record”, knew the road and had made deliveries in the area for some weeks.
Ms Hunter asked the jury: “Was Mr Doyle’s failure to observe Mrs Gehlau for that period of between three to five seconds, bearing in mind his familiarity with the road and the fact he had overtaken her, a culpable lapse in the standard of care expected of a careful and competent driver, such as to make him criminally responsible of driving without due care and attention?”
She said witnesses believed Mrs Gehlau was planning to head straight on, towards Blackfriars bridge. The rear wheel of her bike was hit by the second axle of the HGV, throwing her to the road. A rear wheel ran over the middle of her body. She was taken to the Royal London hospital but died with her family by her side three days later.
Ms Hunt read out a statement from a witness who said Mr Doyle, who was in shock, failed to realise how critically injured Mrs Gehlau was and said: “Oh my God, You stupid girl, didn’t you hear I was turning left?”
Ms Hunter told the court: “By not stopping, she [Mrs Gehlau] did nothing wrong. She was in the cyclists’ lane. She was approaching the cyclists’ box. In Germany, cyclists are given the right of way.”
The case continues.