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A prankster driver walked free from court on Thursday after accidentally killing his cyclist workmate who jokingly grabbed onto his car for a ‘tow’.
Paul Heenan, 40, died after taking hold of Gareth Robbins’ Peugeot 208 as the pair left work for the day at the Yuasa battery factory in Ebbw Vale, Gwent in Wales.
Mr Heenan had been riding close to the car so he could be towed by the vehicle in a ‘playful workplace banter’ joke.
However, he suffered ‘catastrophic injuries’ when Robbins’ car allegedly accelerated up to about 29mph while he was still holding on – throwing him up into the air.
Mr Heenan, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered a severe brain injury and later died at the scene.
Father-of-two Robbins, 33, of Ebbw Vale, was today cleared of causing death by dangerous driving – but admitted causing his death by careless driving.
He was released on bail and is due back at court for sentencing in May.
Father-of-two Gareth Robbins, 33, of Ebbw Vale, was today cleared of causing death by dangerous driving – but admitted causing his death by careless driving
Paul Heenan had been riding close to the car so he could be towed by the vehicle in a ‘playful workplace banter’ joke. However, he suffered ‘catastrophic injuries’ when the car allegedly accelerated while he was holding on – and he was thrown into the air
Cardiff Crown Court heard father-of-two Mr Heenan has started riding to work to keep fit after his gym closed during lockdown.
Robbins said: ‘We have never known Paul to cycle into work. There was jesting about him cycling in because of the gyms.
‘I said “Why are you cycling in? You’re too old to cycle in.” It was just laughing amongst friends kind of thing.’
The court heard Robbins had been behind the wheel when his workmate was riding his bike in front of him in April 2020.
Robbins then knocked ‘joker’ Mr Heenan from the bike while driving at speeds of between 24mph and 29mph, it was later revealed.
Gareth Robbins, 33, of Ebbw Vale, denied causing death by dangerous driving but admits a lesser charge of causing death by careless driving
Prosecutor Eugene Egan said: ‘The defendant drove very close to the deceased who was cycling along normally in the roadway with the kerb to his left.
‘The front passenger window on the Peugeot was open and the deceased appears to have grabbed on to the B-pillar of the car.
‘The cyclist had his left hand on the handlebar and his right hand out and he was holding on to the pillar of the vehicle where the front passenger seat belt area is.
‘He was, in effect, being towed along.’
Mr Egan said that at this point Robbins: ‘Accelerated and he knew that the deceased was clinging on to the side of his car and defendant reached a speed of between 24 and 29mph.
‘That is a very dangerous thing for a driver to do.’
The court heard the handle bar made contact with the car causing Mr Hennan to lose his balance.
Mr Heenan, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered a brain injury and died at the scene.
Mr Egan added: ‘Playful workplace banter had spilled over with tragic consequences.’
Robbins said he referred to his colleague as ‘Skipper and Guvnor’ at the Yuasa battery factory in Ebbw Vale, Gwent.
He said: ‘I’d like to think we were more than colleagues’.
Robbins, of Ebbw Vale, denied causing death by dangerous driving but admitted a lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
Robbins has no previous convictions. He was bailed until May when he is due to be sentenced for causing death by careless driving.
Source: Daily Mail