Van driver '˜nodded off' and caused life-changing injuries to A22 cyclist, court hears

A collision that left a Hailsham cyclist with severe injuries and memory problems happened when a van driver '˜nodded off' at the wheel, it was argued in court today.

Monday, 25th June 2018, 7:16 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 4:47 pm
The case was heard at Lewes Crown Court

Prosecution say van driver Krasimir Ginov ‘simply failed to see’ Aaron Jones before his van struck him and left him with life-changing injuries.

He appeared at Lewes Crown Court today, charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving about 3.30am on the A22 on May 24 last year.

Mr Ginov, from Bulgaria, said he was ‘scared’ after the accident and did not know what to do as he held the cyclist’s head in his hands at the side of the road.

Prosecutor Richard Barton said: “I am going to suggest you nodded off at the wheel.”

Mr Ginov denied that he fell asleep.

‘There is nothing to suggest he was anything other than a competent cyclist.’

Mr Barton told the jury: “This, albeit a serious case, is relatively simple.

“Whilst driving a van in the early hours of the morning collided with another many who was riding on his pedal cycle and as a result the cyclist suffered serious life-changing injuries.”

Mr Ginov, 48, was working as a delivery driver at the time. He lives in Kent.

The court heard how Aaron Jones, who is in his late 40s, had some learning difficulties and worked as a cleaner three days a week for TJ Hughes in Eastbourne.

Mr Barton said: “Every weekday morning he cycled from his home in Hailsham to his mum’s in Polegate and then his brother would give him a lift into Eastbourne on the days he was working.

“He had difficulty reading and writing and before the collision he suffered from a mild stammer.

“There is nothing to suggest he was anything other than a competent cyclist.”

Mr Barton told jurors that on the day of the collision Mr Jones had left his home in Hailsham in the early hours of the morning to cycle to Polegate as usual.

He told the court that he was wearing a high-visibility jacket and had bike lights that were on.

“He was clearly there to be seen by other road users,” he added.

Mr Barton told the court how witness Jason Bullock was driving a HGV lorry some way behind Mr Ginov’s white Renault van, who was a little distance behind Mr Jones.

The prosecutor said: “It happened directly in front of him.”

He told the court how the defendant Ginov ‘took no action to prevent his van colliding with Mr Jones on his bike’.

Life-changing injuries

Both the defendant and Mr Bullock pulled over and Mr Bullock called the emergency services, who were swiftly on the scene.

Mr Jones was taken to Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton with serious injuries.

He was unconscious for several days.

“He suffered a constellation of very serious injuries.

“This included bleeding in and under the layers that surround the brain.

“He had fractures to the skull including the base of the skull, ruptures and bleeding in both his lungs, what are called flail injuries to his ribs and lacerations to his liver.

“It may be a mercy Aaron Jones has no recollection of the collision itself.”

After about eight weeks, Mr Jones was discharged from Royal Sussex County Hospital and transferred to the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath for rehabilitation.

Mr Barton described to the jurors how the incident has affected Mr Jones: “His stammer has got worse.

“His short term memory is very poor. He now requires assistance for every day tasks.

“He needs a member of the family with him full time. He has left his cleaning job at TJ Hughes.”

Following the collision it was discovered that Mr Ginov did not have insurance, Mr Barton said, though he noted the defendant claims this was the result of some confusion with the company.

Ginov’s testimony

Mr Barton informed the jury that while Mr Ginov denies dangerous driving he has admitted careless driving.

But Mr Barton told the court: “There is no sensible explanation for why he did not see him and why the collision occurred.

“This defendant simply failed to see Mr Jones and therefore failed in what might be thought is the most basic requirement of any driver.”

An extract from Mr Ginov’s police interview was read out in court.

In it, speaking through an interpreter, Mr Ginov claimed that Mr Jones was not wearing a helmet, reflective jacket or using bike lights.

He claimed that he had no idea that his insurance had been cancelled and did not remember receiving warning letters from the company.

Speaking in court, again through an interpreter, Mr Ginov said he was driving between 35 and 40mph and did not see Mr Jones before the collision.

He said he pulled over and went over to the injured cyclist.

He told the court: “I was scared. I held his head in my hands and I did not know what to do.”

Mr Barton said to him: “I am going to suggest you nodded off at the wheel.”

Mr Ginov denied that this happened.

The defendant has already pleaded guilty to a charge of using a motor vehicle without third party insurance.

The trial continues.