Lorry driver who ploughed into back of cyclist on A40 told jurors: 'I didn't see him'

·3-min read
Tomas Mikalajunas outside Oxford Crown Court
Tomas Mikalajunas outside Oxford Crown Court

A lorry driver who ploughed into the back of a cyclist on the A40 near Witney told jurors he ‘didn’t see’ him.

Arunn Niessan Marusaleen died at the scene after Tomas Mikalajunas’s lorry struck him from behind on the Witney bypass in the early hours of December 28, 2018.

Prosecutors claim the 32-year-old trucker was distracted by a Lithuanian telly show TV Pagalba, playing on his HTC mobile phone via YouTube. The programme has previously been described in court as a 'Jeremy Kyle-type' show.

A dashboard camera in his own cab captured audio from the show playing in the minutes leading up to the fatal crash, although the Crown was unable to say whether Mikalajunas was watching the programme or simply listening to the audio.

But in the witness stand yesterday, Mikalajunas maintained that he had not seen the cyclist - despite prosecution and defence collision experts agreeing the cyclist would have been ‘available to be seen’ between 10 and 13 seconds before the crash and his hi-viz could be seen two seconds before he was hit.

READ MORE: Fatal crash driver had 'Jeremy Kyle-type show' playing in cab

Cross-examining the lorry driver, prosecutor Nigel Ogborne asked: “You know that had you taken any avoiding action - a slight manoeuvre, a turning of your steering wheel - you may have avoided the deceased?”

He replied: “If I would have seen him, yes, I would have.”

“In fact, you had no reaction whatsoever, did you? You didn’t brake?” Mr Ogborne asked.

“Because I didn’t see him,” Mikalajunas answered to all questions.

He was told: “But he was there to be seen.” Mikalajunas repeated: “But I didn’t see him.”

File image of the A40 Witney bypass Picture: GOOGLE
File image of the A40 Witney bypass Picture: GOOGLE

File image of the A40 Witney bypass Picture: GOOGLE

The prosecutor summarised his case: “Mr Mikalajunas, I suggest that the reason you didn’t see the deceased was because your attention was elsewhere and the reason you did not see him was because you were either distracted by the TV programme which was playing on your HTC phone or you were distracted by the nature of the TV programme you were listening to.”

He responded: “My attention was on the road, on the area that was lit by the lights of my car. I didn’t see [him]. [The TV show] was in my native language and I was not distracted.”

Mikalajunas said he had not put his truck’s main beam lights on as he was anticipating oncoming traffic. It was pointed out that there was a 42 second stretch recorded on the dash cam where there were no other vehicles on the road and he kept his dipped headlights on. He had earlier been using his main beam lights.

The jury was told that the defendant had no previous convictions, had been an HGV driver since 2013 and knew the stretch of the A40 where the crash took place well.

Mikalajunas, of Baycliff Close, Barnsley, denies charges of causing death by dangerous and careless driving. The trial continues.

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