A motorist has been summoned to appear in court charged with causing the death of a cyclist after a crowdfunding appeal enabled a rare private prosecution to be brought.
Gail Purcell, 58, is due to appear at Westminster magistrates’ court on September 6 to face charges of causing the death by careless driving of stand-in teacher Michael Mason, 70, in Regent Street in February 2014.
Mr Mason’s daughter, Anna Tatton-Brown, said today: “It’s something we [as a family] have been pushing for and are keen to have. This isn’t about a persecution of Gail Purcell. This is about prosecutors taking Mick’s death – and cycling deaths – seriously.
“It’s sad we’ve had to rely on charity and public support to do what the police and criminal justice system should have done anyway.”
The legal challenge by the Cyclists’ Defence Fund follows anger from Mr Mason’s family and road safety campaigners at the decision of the Metropolitan police not to prosecute.
It was made possible after more than £60,000 was raised from in excess of 1,500 donations to cover legal fees. It is believed to be the first such private prosecution brought after a cyclist’s death.
Ms Purcell told an inquest in December 2014 that she was driving a Nissan Juke car north on Regent Street, near the BBC, when she failed to see Mr Mason cycling in front of her. She received the court summons on Saturday at her home in St Albans.
The prosecution will enable evidence not considered at an inquest to be heard by the magistrate.
Duncan Dollimore, spokesman for the Cyclists’ Defence Fund, a subsidiary of the Cycling UK charity, said: “This is an important step towards what we hope will be justice for Mick Mason’s family. They have suffered not just the tragic death of a family pillar, but also been woefully let down by the police and legal system at the time they needed it most.
“The Cyclists’ Defence Fund wants to thank everyone who has generously donated. Without their help this private prosecution and the Mason family’s ongoing struggle for justice wouldn’t have been possible.”
Mr Mason, who was providing teaching cover at Grey Coat Hospital girls’ school in Westminster, suffered “severe traumatic brain injury” after being hit from behind at about 6.25pm on on February 25, 2014, as he cycled home from visiting the Apple shop.
His life-support machine was switched off at St Mary’s hospital 19 days later when doctors told his family that the prospect of a recovery was “extremely remote”.
Deputy coroner Dr William Dolman ruled that Mr Mason had died as the result of an “accident”. Under pressure from Mr Mason’s family and media coverage, the Met reviewed its decision not to pass the case to the Crown Prosecution Service but determined it had been correct not to seek a prosecution.
*Note: Ms Purcell’s first name has previously been reported as Gale, as this is how it was listed by Westminster coroner’s court. It is now given as Gail as this corresponds with the speling in her electoral roll entry.