A TRUCKER has been found not guilty of causing the death of a cyclist by dangerous driving following a tragic collision on the outskirts of Carlisle – but now faces sentence for his careless conduct behind the wheel.
Michael Seminara, aged 71, lost his life after being run over by an HGV while riding an electric bike at Cargo roundabout on the A689 on the morning of March 29, 2019.
Mr Seminara, a keen cyclist from Wetheral, near the city, was struck by a lorry towing a log-laden trailer as its driver, 46-year-old Neil Gass, entered the roundabout’s second exit junction and tried to overtake.
Gass assumed that Mr Seminara was heading in the same direction. However, it transpired the cyclist was instead planning to take the third exit.
Gass admitted causing death by careless driving. He denied the more serious allegation of causing death by dangerous driving and went on trial at Carlisle Crown Court, where a jury today (THURS) found him not guilty, unanimously, after deliberating for around an hour.
Giving evidence, Gass conceded he made a “split-second” assumption about the Mr Seminara’s route plan, based on the cyclist’s position in the left hand lane of the roundabout.
“He didn’t give us any any indication – arm signals or eye contact. I thought to myself ‘I will take a line to give this gentleman as much room as possible,” said Gass, who insisted he wasn’t placing any blame on the cyclist.
Asked why he didn’t brake and position his HGV behind the cyclist, Gass replied: “Because I thought there was plenty of room for me to take the exit and pass him.”
Gass was asked how he felt about the tragedy. “I am so, so sorry. I really am,” he told jurors. “That will live with me for the rest of my life, that decision. That’s something I will never get over. I won’t. I’m absolutely devastated by it.”
Describing the impact, he added: “When you are going to bed at night it’s the last thing I see when I’m shutting my eyes, and the first thing I see in the morning when I open my eyes.”
Gass, of Prior Avenue, Canonbie, is due to be sentenced for causing death by careless driving on April 2, when a decision will be taken on whether a driving ban is imposed. He was granted bail ahead of that hearing and told by Recorder David Temkin: “You must prepare yourself for all options.”
Addressing the family and friends of both Gass and Mr Seminara in the public gallery, Recorder Temkin said: “I thank you on behalf of the court for the respect you have shown to these proceedings. It is a dreadful and it is a tragic case.
“There are no winners and you have the sympathy of the court – all of you.”