A taxi driver has been found guilty of playing a part in the collision that led to Sam Boulton's death.
Farook Bhikhu, 56, from Leicester, was the driver of the taxi involved in the tragic death of the Leicester teacher.
The Leicester Mercury reports that Bhikhu was found guilty at Loughborough Magistrates’ Court of permitting a passenger to open a vehicle so as to injure or endanger a person.
Mr Boulton sustained head and chest injuries in a collision, on July 27 – his 26th birthday – last year when passenger Mandy Chapple opened the door of the private hire vehicle door unsuspectingly and knocked him into the path of a Citroen van on London Road.
The court was told that Bhikhu had parked his Volkswagon Passat on double yellow lines in a bus lane on London Road, close to Leicester railway station.
Chapple and her friend, Christina Blackmore, were planning to get a train to Great Yarmouth, and had ordered the taxi to take them to the station.
Mrs Blackmore, who was in court to give evidence, said she was attempting to pay the taxi driver when she heard a “loud bang”.
Bhikhu said he would usually tell passengers when to get out of the taxi and would advise them to do so on the “pavement side”.
He admitted that on the day of the accident he had “forgotten” to do that, thereby allowing Ms Chapple to exit the car as she wished.
However, he said that both women were “adults” and aware of “risks”.
Sandeep Kaushal, defending, argued that no permission was given to either passenger to leave the car.
He said: “No conversation took place at all, so is it fair to blame him? There were adults in the taxi who had responsibility to look around to see if it was safe. The fare was waiting to be paid and the transaction had not been completed. He did not give permission.”
However, Mayzam Razaq, prosecuting, argued that Bhikhu had a duty of care to his passengers and failed in his “forgetfulness” to fulfil that.
He said that he had “breached” Leicester City Council’s code of conduct for taxi drivers in doing so and this amounted to neglect.
Ben Faust, chair of magistrates said: “The crux of this is whether you permitted your passenger to open the door.
“We find that because the car was parked on double yellow lines, there was an inherent danger leading to greater risk than had the car been parked in the designated drop off zone at the station.
“We find that the passengers would reasonably assume that because the vehicle was parked and the journey was over, it was acceptable to get out. By not giving any instructions, permission was inferred and we therefore find you guilty.”
Bhikhu was ordered to pay a £300 fine, £635 prosecution costs and £30 victim surcharge.
Chapple has already been fined £80 for her part in the tragedy.
The 56-year-old pleaded guilty to opening a vehicle door so as to injure or endanger another person, known as car-dooring.
The driver of the van, Nigel Ingram, has also been given a 26-week suspended prison sentence.
The 50-year-old was nearly three times over the drink-drive limit at the time of the accident but a court was told if Ingram had not been over the limit, it would not have made any difference to the collision occurring.
He was banned from driving for 28 months.
Cycling UK assisted Sam Boulton’s family in bringing the prosecutions to court.
The organisation promotes safe cycling and senior road safety officer Duncan Dollimore was in court to hear the verdict on Bhikhu.
He said: “There are over 500 people a year who are injured.
Most prosecutions are for the actual person who opened the door. Prosecutions for “permitting” the door to open are rare.
“As a passenger you don’t have the benefit of the driver’s wing mirror. It’s easier to do that from the front passenger seat so the driver has some responsibility and that’s even greater in the case of a professional transporting people.”
Mr Dollimore said that a high number of “car-dooring” accidents were down to “inappropriate” parking.
He said the organisation had lobbied the Ministry of Justice to create a “more meaningful offence such as causing death or serious injury by opening a car door so as to endanger someone.
“That would mean the offence wasn't trivialised.”
He added: “There also needs to be more driver training as part of the test. In Holland they have this as part of a particular technique which is taught. This makes you look behind you when exiting a vehicle. We have contacted the Department for Transport to see if this can be included in the driver test and we’d like strong guidance on this in the Highway Code.
“Sam’s parents have indicated they would like to see a change in legislation so this offence is taken more seriously, as well as further education and awareness on the dangers of car-dooring.
“We hope today’s verdict will raise awareness of how serious this is.”