Jury Finds Truck Driver "Not Guilty"

by Jana Ritter - Published: 5/06/2013

While the nation awaits the fate of Jodi Arias (the now infamous ex-girlfriend who brutally killed rising motivational speaker - Travis Alexander), an Australian cement truck driver has been found not guilty in a dangerous driving charge that caused the death of cyclist and gifted musician Richard Pollett.

Jodi arias

Driver Luke Michael Stevens, 29, plead not guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and after three days of evidence and submissions in the District Court trial in Brisbane, the jury retired on Friday morning to consider its verdict. It took them only until 10.49am Monday to find Stevens not guilty of the serious charge against him. Stevens had tears in his eyes as he stepped from the prisoner's dock.

Devastated parents, Patricia and Philip Pollett, also had teary eyes as they made a statement to the media outside the Brisbane courthouse. Not wanting their son's death to be forgotten in vain, they said they hoped it would remind motorists of their duty of care to one another on the state's roads. "We all have a duty of care to one another on the roads and we should remember that when all of us are using the roads," Philip Pollett said.

Pollet, 25, was killed after being struck by the cement truck's rear tires as the driver attempted to overtake him on September 27, 2011. "There is an increasing number of cyclists joining the roads for health reasons and for environmental reasons and we need to exercise that duty of care, especially the drivers of heavy vehicles and especially professional drivers who should know to give cyclists sufficient room," Philip Pollett added.

During the trial, the jury was told Stevens had been driving inbound when he attempted to overtake Pollett in the far left-hand lane of the road. Crown prosecutor Michael Lehane said scratches, gouge marks and "body scuff marks" were found by officers from the as far back as 25m from the place where Pollett's body came to rest. The court also heard the force of the impact shattered Pollett's bike helmet and that his body had to be disentangled from his mangled bike.

Attorney Steve Zillman, representing Stevens, told the jury his client was going about his lawful business and driving in a responsible way on the day of the accident. He said Stevens was not driving erratically or speeding and was effectively "boxed in" by other cars as he approached Pollett on his bike. Zillman said Stevens was under "the honest and reasonable belief" there was enough room on the road to safely overtake him and that there was no evidence the truck caused Pollett to come off his bike, since he could have fallen off as a result of "any number of reasons".

"It's not good enough to say it's a coincidence," he finished.  But the unfortunate incident is certainly a good enough safety reminder for all truck drivers, everywhere.