A woman who caused a crash that killed a teacher has been fined £80. Mandy Chapple knocked a cyclist into the path of a moving van when she opened the door to a taxi without looking.
The incident, which took place near Leicester Railway Station last July, killed Sam Boulton on his 26th birthday.
Chapple of Speers Road, Leicester, was charged with opening a vehicle door so as to injure or endanger another person – known as car-dooring, when she appeared at Leicester Magistrates' Court. She pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined £80. Magistrates also ordered her to pay a £40 victim surcharge and £30 court costs.
Prosecutor Sally Bedford said: "On the afternoon of July 27, Mandy Chapple was a passenger in a taxi. She was sat behind the driver's seat. Her friend was sitting next to her.
A woman who opened the door of a taxi knocking a cyclist into the path of a van, which killed him, has been fined (Getty Images)
"What then followed were tragic circumstances. Mandy Chapple pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity."
Nigel Hallchurch, representing Chapple, said: "It was obviously a tragic event.
"It was a series of things that happened - it was not entirely down to my client, who opened the door."
Mr Hallchurch also said that Mrs Chapple did look before getting out of the taxi, but could not see clearly out of the back due to the nature of that particular vehicle.
He added: "Since this she has been affected very badly with her nerves. She has been to see a doctor and is awaiting counselling and has been given anti-depressants. She thinks about it all of the time and is very sorry.
"She is 56 and has a husband who is disabled. She has four children aged 23, two who are 27, and 30 - one who still lives at home. She is not working and is receiving benefits."
Speaking after the hearing Duncan Dollimore, senior road safety and legal campaigns officer for charity Cycling UK, said 'car dooring' is often trivialised as a minor offence.
He said: "This possibly explains the reluctance to prosecute in many of the nearly 500 cases each year where a cyclist is seriously injured, or sometimes as in Sam's case killed, as a consequence of somebody opening their car door without looking or care for those on two wheels.
"The biggest problem is that this offence is not taken seriously because of the limited penalties. Cycling UK has repeatedly pressed the Government to introduce new offences of causing serious injury or death by car dooring, with tougher penalties.
"It is not right or just that tragic cases, such as Sam's, see derisory penalties handed down. Tougher penalties, including the option of custodial sentencing, should be an option for the court, which in turn would hopefully encourage the police and CPS to prosecute in car dooring cases."
Taxi driver Farook Bhikhu, 56, of Wicklow Drive, Leicester, pleaded not guilty to a charge of permitting the opening of vehicle door so as to injure or endanger a person. He will now face a trial at Loughborough Magistrates' Court in June.