Cyclist left with brain damage after hay bale falls from trailer and hits him

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A farm worker in Devon has been convicted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving after an unsecured straw bale fell off his trailer and hit a cyclist, leaving him with life-changing injuries.

Matthew Shapcott, 39, from Silverton, loaded the straw bales onto his vehicle without strapping them into place, despite having having ratchet straps available, on 2 August 2019

While driving along a road near Exeter, a straw bale fell from the trailer and hit a passing cyclist who was left with permanent brain damage as a result, Exeter Crown Court heard.

Kenneth Bridle, 69, was in a coma for 13 days. 

Mr Bridle, a retired train driver, suffered a bleed to the brain, two fractures to the spine and several other injuries. The brain damage has caused partial blindness and he spent almost three months in hospital.

After entering a guilty plea Shapcott was sentenced on Tuesday to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and 140 hours unpaid work.

Judge David Evans told the defendant: “This was not merely a piece of absentmindedness, it was a deliberate decision you took not to take an obvious safety action which you had engaged in before. You created a relatively brief and obvious danger, especially as regards vulnerable road users and of course you caused very significant harm.”

Motor Patrol Constable Hamilton-Schaschke said: “This devastating incident was all entirely avoidable if Shapcott had simply secured the load.

“The victim’s quality of life and independence has been severely impaired.

“Shapcott’s lax attitude to what was a simple but essential safety measure has had a catastrophic impact upon the victim who has been robbed of what should have been a relaxing retirement.

The constable said incident “should serve as a reminder to motorists to ensure they secure their loads, whatever it is they are transporting, wherever they are going, when travelling on public roads, so tragedies such as this are avoided”.

Mr Bridle has still not finished being treated for all of his injuries due to the pressure the coronavirus crisis has caused the NHS.

The independent

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