A taxi driver who hit and killed a student which he mistook for a bin bag has been found not guilty of death by careless driving. Frank Norman, 71, claimed he did not see Robert Steph-enson, 21, lying in the road when driving a fare in his Ford Mondeo around York.
According to the Daily Mail, it took the jury at York Crown Court just 105 minutes to unanimously acquit Mr Norman after he was charged after he hit the student on March 26 last year.
Following the ruling, Judge Paul Batty, QC said: “The court would wish to pay tribute to the quiet dignity of Robert’s family during the currency of these proceedings and the court acknowledges their obvious grief and abiding loss of one so loved.”
Relatives of Mr Stephenson sat in the public gallery when the jury returned their verdict, as they did throughout the four-day trial.
The court heard that Mr Norman would have swerved to avoid the third year Newcastle University student had he known he was a person. The cab driver said he thought the bag in the road was a bin liner filled with paper or cardboard.
Mr Norman, of York, showed no reaction when the verdict was announced. During the trial, the jury was told that Norman was not paying enough close attention to the street in the Micklegate area of the city.
Simon Waley, prosecuting, told the court: “Mr Stephenson was stationary and his body remained on the road directly in the path of this Mondeo... The defendant didn’t slow down.” Mr Waley said another taxi had seen the third year undergraduate lying in the road and stopped to avoid hitting him, before Norman ran him over at about 2.35am.
Police collision ex-pert PC David Taylor also alleged that a driver could have seen there was something on the road from 75 yards (70 metres).
A trust fund set up in Mr Stephenson’s memory has raised more than £100,000 to help young people participate in sport.