Coronavirus doctor cleared over biker death in first Old Bailey trial to conclude using social distancing

Tristan Kirk
Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/

A doctor trying to find a cure for coronavirus has been cleared of killing a motorcyclist in a car crash, in the first Old Bailey trial to be held since the country went into lockdown.

Dr Mohammad Tahir, 45, was accused of causing the death by careless driving of 35-year-old Thomas Bailey in a box junction collision at the north end of Battersea Bridge in October 2017.

It was alleged the GP had failed to spot Mr Bailey when he turned right on to the bridge, but he was found not guilty by a jury today after three and a half hours of deliberations.

Dr Tahir's case was the first to start at the Old Bailey under new social distancing rules, after all trials were temporarily halted in March to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Three rooms at the famous courthouse were used for the case, with evidence being heard in one, observers watching on through a videolink to the second room, and a third courtroom being used by the jury to deliberate safely.

Only a handful of courts around England and Wales have so far been deemed safe - alongside the Old Bailey - to conduct jury trials, but more are expected to be given the go-ahead in the next few weeks.

Judge Richard Marks QC, the Common Serjeant of London, used a microphone to address jurors at the start of the case last week, as they spread out along the foyer of the courthouse.

He said special arrangements had been made for the trial to be conducted under social distancing rules and the building had been deep-cleaned, adding: “We are living, are we not, in very challenging times and it would be remiss of me not to address your concerns during the pandemic.”

Dr Tahir, an experienced GP trainer and private clinic director, told his trial he was currently helping to tackle the coronavirus threat and is also working on finding an effective treatment.

The father-of-five told the court his team have been treating hundreds of people each day, including on home visits, adding: "I also run a trial centre for a drug to treat Covid.”

The fatal crash happened early in the morning of October 4 2017, as Dr Tahir was driving a Toyota Prius along the Embankment on the north side of the Thames.

Mr Bailey was declared dead at the scene of the crash.

Dr Tahir, who stopped at the scene, told police: “I just didn’t see him at all. First I knew about it was the collision.”

Dr Tahir, from Slough, denied causing death by careless driving and was acquitted by the jury.