Huntingdon pedestrian found guilty of manslaughter following death of cyclist has conviction overturned

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A woman who was jailed after being found guilty of manslaughter following the death of a cyclist has had her conviction overturned.

Celia Ward, 77, died after being struck by a car on Huntingdon ring road in October 2022.

She swerved into the road, in Huntingdon, to avoid Auriol Grey, who was angrily gesticulating at her to get off the pavement.

Auriol GreyAuriol Grey
Auriol Grey

Last year, Ms Grey was found guilty of manslaughter, and was given a three year jail sentence.

WATCH: Pedestrian jailed for killing cyclist (77) after getting angry she was ri…

However, today (Wednesday), that conviction was overturned at a hearing at the Court of Appeal.

‘The prosecution case was insufficient even to be left to the jury’

Celia Ward with her husband David.Celia Ward with her husband David.
Celia Ward with her husband David.

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.”

‘Vulnerable people like Auriol need better support from the justice system’

Following the ruling, Auriol Grey’s family said: “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 for 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. That said, we have been heartened and gratified by the way the legal community has rallied around her and with no thought to personal gain, worked hard to right these wrongs.

“Auriol’s challenges are not over today. After a tough start she has strived over decades to build a normal life without seeking attention, and we don’t underestimate the difficulties she will face rebuilding this. We would ask the people of Huntingdon and the press to please respect her privacy and give her space during this time.”

Mrs Ward’s decision to cycle on the pavement ‘entirely understandable’

Auriol Grey’s legal team, from firm Hickman & Rose, said Ms Grey – who at the time of the incident was aged 46, was born with brain damage and, as a child, underwent a ‘partial left hemispherectomy’ (an operation that removed part of the left hemisphere of her brain). As a result in some respects, now as an adult, she suffered from various physical disabilities and a degree of impaired cognitive function.

The team said she was walking slowly, with the road on her left-hand side, as she generally preferred to walk with the road on her left because she had no peripheral vision to her right and had limited use of her right leg and right arm.

Celia Ward, who was then aged 77, was cycling towards Ms Grey on the pavement. It appears that Mrs Ward often cycled on the pavement, where there was no safe cycle lane for her to use. At that time, there was no marked cycle lane alongside the ring road and, so, no designated route along which Mrs Ward could cycle. Mrs Ward’s decision to cycle on the pavement was entirely understandable.

Ms Grey became aware of Mrs Ward approaching. As the CCTV footage showed, as an autistic disabled woman, with impaired vision, she felt annoyed to have to contend with a cyclist on the pavement as well as other hazards. As Mrs Ward continued cycling directly towards her, Ms Grey gesticulated with her left hand in what was described at the trial as a “shooing” motion. At the same time, Ms Grey said loudly, “get off the f****** pavement”. As Mrs Ward came very close to Ms Grey, she toppled into the road and into the path of oncoming traffic.

‘It was clear that there was no proper basis for Ms Grey to be convicted of manslaughter, or indeed any offence’

The legal team said: “For reasons which remain unclear, the legal elements of unlawful act manslaughter – the offence with which Ms Grey was charged – were never properly identified, nor were they explained to the jury. As the Court of Appeal found this morning. This was a “fundamental and material” legal error as a result of which the Court had “no hesitation” in concluding that Ms Grey’s conviction was unsafe.

“As the Court found, once the legal elements of the offence were properly understood, it was clear that there was no proper basis for Ms Grey to be convicted of manslaughter, or indeed any offence. As a result, her conviction was quashed. Ms Grey simply should never have been charged.

“Neither Mrs Ward’s family, nor Ms Grey and hers, should ever have been put through this ordeal.

“Mrs Ward should never have been faced with the choice between cycling on the pavement or cycling on a busy and dangerous ring road. Had a clear and well-signed cycle path been in place, safely separating vulnerable pedestrians such as Ms Grey, this accident would never have occurred. Equally, misconceived prosecutions and wrongful convictions such as this cause untold pain to all those affected, including the family of the deceased, as well as the person wrongly accused.”


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