Minicab driver cleared of killing ballet star Jonathan Ollivier in motorbike crash

Fiona Simpson, Francesca Gillett
Killed in crash: Ballet star Jonathan Ollivier: Matthew Bourne Company/PA

A minicab driver accused of causing the death of a star ballet dancer in a horror crash has walked free from court.

Critically-acclaimed dancer Jonathan Ollivier was knocked off his motorbike on Farringdon Road in Clerkenwell just hours before he was due to give his final performance in Matthew Bourne's production The Car Man at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in August 2015.

Mercedes driver Abdul Qayyum, 45, was cleared of killing the 38-year-old by careless driving on Tuesday following a trial at the Old Bailey.

Mr Qayyum was ferrying a passenger from Hackney to Heathrow Airport in his black Mercedes saloon on August 9 when he pulled out of a side street and tried to cross Farringdon Road onto another side street.

Ballet star: Jonathan Ollivier died hours before he was due to give his final performance in Matthew Bourne's production The Car Man(Chris Mann/The Matthew Bourne Co/PA )

The court heard how Mr Qayyum, of Bath Road in Slough, pulled out slowly and was in the middle of the road when his car collided with Mr Ollivier's motorcycle, causing the bike to spin out of control.

Jonathan Ollivier in Swan Lake (Alastair Muir/Rex)

Mr Ollivier died almost instantly after suffering fatal head injuries, the prosecution said.

Mr Qayyum broke down on the witness stand as he made an emotional direct plea to the victim's family, telling them: "It was a pure accident".

The court heard a statement from senior toxicologist Dr Rebecca Andrews from Imperial College London, who said Mr Ollivier’s body had traces of a by-product produced when the system breaks down cocaine.

Although no cocaine was found in his body, the presence of the breakdown product means Mr Ollivier had recently taken the drug - although not in the last three hours - and was in a comedown stage.