Woman who caused cyclist’s death has conviction overturned

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Auriol Grey, who confronted cyclist Celia Ward in Huntingdon, was convicted of manslaughter last year
By Brian Farmer & PA Media
BBC News, at the Court of Appeal

A woman who shouted and waved at a cyclist, causing her to fall into the path of a car, has had her manslaughter conviction overturned by appeal judges.

Auriol Grey, 50, of Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, used an expletive as she told Celia Ward, 77, to “get off the pavement” in the town in 2020.

Mrs Ward, from nearby Wyton, died from her injuries.

Ms Grey, who has cerebral palsy and partial blindness, was jailed for three years at a retrial last year.

At the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, three judges overturned her conviction, leading her family to call for “lessons to be learnt”, saying that vulnerable people needed better support from the justice system.

Dame Victoria Sharp, sitting with Mrs Justice Yip and Mrs Justice Farbey, said: “In our judgment, the prosecution case was insufficient even to be left to the jury.

“In all the circumstances, we have no hesitation in concluding that the appellant’s conviction for manslaughter is unsafe.”

‘Prolonged suffering’

Following the ruling, Ms Grey’s family – who watched the appeal via video link – said in a statement: “Whilst we welcome the decision of the Court of Appeal, our thoughts today are also with the Ward family, and I am a sure a day doesn’t go by when they don’t remember their tragic loss.

“We are very relieved that Auriol’s prison ordeal is over and we would like to thank the staff and inmates of HMP Peterborough for the kindness and consideration they have shown over the last year.”

“There has been unnecessary and prolonged suffering and vulnerable people like Auriol need better support from the justice system – we hope lessons will be learnt.”

Auriol Grey was filmed shouting an expletive at the cyclist

The court heard Ms Grey, who attended the hearing having been released from prison in March pending the appeal, was charged with unlawful act manslaughter – which requires an unlawful action that caused death to have to taken place.

However, her lawyers told appeal judges no such “base offence” was ever identified at the trial.

Dame Victoria and her fellow appeal judges agreed, ruling that the jury were not asked to decide “the fundamental question of whether a base offence was established”.

The senior judge continued: “Had Mrs Ward not died we regard it as inconceivable that the appellant would have been charged with assault.”

During her original trial, Ms Grey’s actions had been described as “hostile gesticulation” towards Mrs Ward.

However, Adrian Darbishire KC, for Ms Grey, said in the appeal: “Hostile gesticulation is not a crime, otherwise we would have 50,000 football fans each weekend being apprehended.”

The Crown Prosecution Service had responded to the appeal, with its barrister Simon Spence KC telling the court it was accepted that “common assault as the base offence was not identified by name”.

After the judges gave their ruling, Mr Spence asked for Ms Grey’s case to be sent back to Crown Court for a retrial, which was denied.

In a statement, Cambridgeshire Police said: “We note the court’s decision”.

The force said Mrs Ward’s family did not wish to say anything on the ruling.

Got a story? Email eastofenglandnews@bbc.co.uk or WhatsApp 0800 169 1830

19 March2 March 2023

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