A cyclist who knocked down and killed a mother-of-two while riding an illegal Olympic-style racing bike has been jailed for 18 months.
Charlie Alliston, then 18, was travelling at 18mph on a fixed-wheel track bike with no front brakes before he crashed into 44-year-old Kim Briggs as she crossed a street.
Alliston got up and shouted and swore at Mrs Briggs as she lay fatally injured, and later said the accident was “her fault” in a string of unapologetic social media posts.
He was cleared of manslaughter following a ground-breaking trial.
But he was convicted of the 1861 crime of “wanton and furious driving” because dangerous driving does not apply to cyclists.
Sentencing him today at the Old Bailey Judge Wendy Joseph QC said: “I am satisfied in some part it was this so-called thrill that motivated you to ride without a front brake shouting and swearing at pedestrians to get out of the way.
“I’ve heard your evidence and I have no doubt that even now you remain obstinately sure of yourself and your own abilities.
“I have no doubt you are wrong in this. You were an accident waiting to happen.
“The victim could have been any pedestrian. It was in fact Mrs Kim Briggs.”
The judge said Alliston’s “whole manner of driving” caused the accident.
“If you bicycle had a front wheel brake you could have stopped but on this illegal bike you could not and on your evidence, by this stage, you were not even trying to slow or stop.
“You expected her to get out of the way.”
Alliston raised his eyebrows as the judge said his sentence would be custodial.
The case heard how Alliston had later criticised Mrs Briggs, commenting on an online news article, he claimed he had shouted out to her but she “ignored me”, looked back at her phone then “stopped dead” in his path.
He wrote: “I feel bad due to the seriousness of her injuries but I can put my hands up and say this is not my fault.”
On an internet forum for fixed-wheel bike enthusiasts, he later described how he twice warned her to “get the f*** outta my way”.
He wrote: “We collided pretty hard, our heads hit together, hers went into the floor and ricocheted into mine.
“It is a pretty serious incident so I won’t bother saying oh she deserved it, it’s her fault. Yes it is her fault but no she did not deserve it.
“Hopefully, it is a lesson learned on her behalf, it shouldn’t have happened like it did but what more can I say.”
He complained: “Everyone is quick to judge and help the so-called victim but not the other person in the situation, ie me.
But in mitigation, his lawyer Mark Wyeth QC told the court: “What we do not have is a callous young man who doesn’t give a damn about anything.”
He said his client had suffered tragedy at the age of 16 when his father collapsed and died from a heart attack on the bathroom floor just a week before Alliston was to sit his GCSEs.
Referring to a pre-sentence report, Mr Wyeth said: “There was a lot of vilification in the case in the manner he expressed himself in posts.
“There is within him, I respectfully submit, a lot of internal sense of emotional turmoil but keeps this hidden as a coping strategy.”
The court heard Alliston was depressed, had broken up with his girlfriend and lost his job.
Prosecutors took the unprecedented step of bringing a manslaughter charge due to the unusually grave circumstances of the case.
The other offence of wanton and furious driving, under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail.
Mrs Briggs’ widower Matthew, from Lewisham, south London, has called for a “radical change” in cycling culture and the introduction of new laws, including causing death by dangerous cycling.
Alliston, now 20, from Bermondsey, south London, had denied both charges against him.
Alliston, a former bike courier wearing a top with “Anti Social” on it, had been on his way to buy food for his girlfriend when he crashed into Mrs Briggs during her lunch break.
Alliston, now 20, was convicted under a 156-year-old law designed for horse-drawn carriages after he hit Kim Briggs while riding a fixed-wheel track bike with no front brake.
Mrs Briggs died in hospital a week after the crash in Old Street, east London.
Cycling laws are now being reviewed by the government after the local MP Heidi Alexander told Prime Minister Theresa May the law was “hopelessly outdated and wholly inadequate”.
A judge said Alliston showed “not one iota of remorse” after Mrs Briggs, 44, suffered “catastrophic” head injuries and died a week later in hospital.
The court heard Alliston blamed Mrs Briggs for the crash in a string of posts on social media, claiming he twice warned her to “get the f*** outta my way”.
After the trial last month it emerged he Alliston had ‘hid’ a ghoulish skull tattoo from the jury.
Mrs Briggs’ husband Matt Briggs told the court in an emotional victim impact statement: “I don’t know why such a wonderful woman was killed in this way.
“Sometimes the grief still overwhelms me.”
The couple had been together for 26 years before the fatal crash.
Mr Briggs went on: “That evening I had to bring my children to the hospital and tell them that mummy would probably die.
“Over the next week my children had to say goodbye to their mother as she lied in the intensive care unit.”
Mr Briggs said he would use Kim’s death to campaign for a change in “outdated” cycling laws.
He said: “I am now determined to do what I can to prevent others from going through the heartache we have had to bear following Kim’s needless death.
“We need to radically change some aspects of our cycling culture.
“This is not a witch hunt against all cyclists (I, myself cycle in London) only the irresponsible and reckless.”
In a statement outside court today, Mr Briggs said: “This case has clearly and evidently demonstrated there is a gap in the law when it comes to dealing with death or serious injury by dangerous cycling.
“To have to rely on either manslaughter at one end, or a Victorian law that doesn’t even mention causing death at the other end, tells us there is a gap.
“The fact that what happened to Kim is rare is not a reason to be no remedy.”
Criminal and regulatory lawyer, Tim Williamson, from law firm Blake Morgan, today said of the family’s call for legislative change: “The family’s fight for a change in the law is extremely courageous and a new law would have a number of advantages, most significantly it would enable parliament to think about what sort of sentence ought to be imposed for such serious and grave offending as in this case.
“The proposed new law would lead to a new definitive sentencing guideline being drawn up by the Sentencing Council, which ought to lead to consistency in the approach to sentencing.
“This would mirror the dangerous and careless driving offences which currently apply to motorists.
“While there can be no denying that the law did its job on this occasion, and the offence created back in the reign of Queen Victoria actually worked well in 2017, any change in the law that helps prevent other families from suffering the devastating consequences of offences like this should be welcomed.”