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Woman, 49, convicted of manslaughter after raising her hand at elderly cyclist before collision

Woman, 49, has been convicted of manslaughter after raising her hand at pensioner, 77, who was riding a bicycle on the sidewalk – then pulled into the road and was hit by a car

  • Auriol Grey, 49, raised her hand to cyclist Celia Ward, 77, in Huntingdon, Cambs
  • Retired midwife Mrs Ward fell on the road and was killed in a car accident

A woman who raised her hand to an elderly cyclist on the sidewalk shortly before a fatal accident has been convicted of manslaughter.

Auriol Grey, 49, angrily swiped at 77-year-old Celia Ward and told her to ‘get off the goddamn curb’, Peterborough Crown Court heard.

Within seconds, retired midwife Mrs Ward swerved onto the road and into the path of a car that failed to stop, The Times reports.

She was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

Prosecutor Simon Spence KC said the two women passed each other when Gray “gestured in a hostile and aggressive manner” to Ms Ward in October 2020.

Celia Ward, 77, (pictured with husband David) died in the hit-and-run in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, after Auriol Gray, 49, raised her hand and cursed as she passed her on the pavement

Footage showed Ms Ward losing her balance and landing on the road where she was hit by a car

Footage showed Ms Ward losing her balance and landing on the road where she was hit by a car

CCTV footage showed Grey, who has cerebral palsy, raising her hand as Mrs Ward lost her balance and landed on the road.

As emergency services rushed to the scene, Gray fled on foot and went to nearby Sainsbury’s to buy groceries.

After officers brought her in for questioning, Gray explained that she was visually impaired and felt “anxious” because the bike was traveling “fast” down the sidewalk. She added that she could have raised her hand “unintentionally.”

The Highway Act 1835 makes it illegal to cycle on the pavement, with a fine of up to £500. However, in this case officers were unable to determine whether the pavement was a shared cycleway.

Gray will be sentenced later today.

Detective Sergeant Mark Dollard said, “This was a difficult and tragic case. Everyone will have their own opinion about cyclists, sidewalks and bike lanes, but what is clear is that Auriol Gray’s reaction to Celia’s presence on a bicycle was totally disproportionate and ultimately found to be illegal, resulting in Celia’s untimely and unnecessary death .

“I am happy with the verdict and hope it serves as a strong reminder to all road users to be careful and considerate of each other. I want to take the time to acknowledge Celia’s family and thank them for their patience and dignity throughout the investigation and process.”

It is estimated that an average of two cyclists per week die in road accidents, while another 84 are seriously injured. The majority of incidents occur on rural roads and about half occur when a car collides with a cyclist.

The number of cyclists killed in road accidents in 2020 reached a 14-year high in 2020, when 140 deaths were a record, the highest figure since 2006. The average person reportedly cycles 90 miles a year, while 47 percent of adults own of or had access to a bicycle.

A parliamentary study published in 2021 found that fatal collisions of cyclists caused by pedestrians were extremely rare, with only five such incidents occurring in 2019. Of pedestrians killed in road accidents between 2005 and 2018, only six died lives by a cyclist, while 548 lost their lives to vehicles.