Motorist jailed after accelerating through traffic lights and crashing into cyclist in Rugby

John Marshall
John Marshall

Instead of braking when traffic lights turned to amber ahead of him, a Rugby van driver put his foot down – and ploughed into a cyclist, causing her life-changing injuries.

And driver John Marshall, who had gone through the lights ‘at the very last second,’ was later found to have five times the legal level of a cocaine derivative in his system.

He pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and driving with an excess level of a class A drug in his system.

Marshall (29) of Whitefriars Court, Cawston, Rugby, was jailed for eight months and banned from driving for five years and four months, after which he will have to take an extended test to get his licence back.

Prosecutor Andrew Baker said that at just before eight in the morning on the 29th of June 2016 Marshall was driving a white Transit van along Parkfield Road from the direction of Cawston.

As he approached the traffic lights by the Rugby Cement works, where he wanted to make a right turn, the lights were on amber - but instead of stopping, he accelerated over the junction.

At that time Natalie Murray was cycling to work, as she did every day, and had been waiting on the pedestrian central reservation for it to be safe to continue across the road.

Mr Baker observed: “It’s clear he came through at the very last second, with the lights on amber or red.

“The white van comes round the corner and it heels over considerably. That may have been in an attempt to avoid a collision, but more likely because of the speed he was taking the corner.”

The Transit ploughed into Mrs Murray at speed, throwing her from her bike and causing her severe injuries.

Her left arm was badly shattered at the elbow, and even now she cannot fully extend it, and the operation to repair the damage has left her with significant scarring.

Her right thumb was broken in two places, as a result of which she has been left with poor motor function, she had a severe wound to her leg which has left her with long scars, and a large clotting of blood in her left hip has caused a loose area of skin.

In addition, within three months of the collision, she suffered a detached retina and had to undergo surgery.

Following Marshall’s arrest, he was tested for drugs, and was found to have five times the legal level for driving of BZE, a cocaine derivative formed when the drug breaks down in the system, added Mr Baker.

Recorder Rebecca Herbert told Marshall: “Natalie Murray waited on a pedestrian central reservation, and when she found a safe gap she began to cross the road.

“Unfortunately this was just as you entered the junction at speed and turned right, and your van collided with her.

“She was thrown from her bike and suffered appalling life-changing injuries as a result of what you had done. It is clear she is severely mentally and physically changed as a result of her injuries.

“A formerly very fit and active woman, she is now unable to take part in many of the activities in which she once took part. Every aspect of her life has been adversely affected.

“You are responsible for those effects on that lady because of the manner in which you were driving that morning. You drove far too fast for the conditions and crossed the junction at a time the lights were on amber and about to turn red.

“It is quite clear that instead of stopping, as you should have done, or slowing down at the very least, you put your foot down to try to beat the lights.

“Following the accident you tested positive for a cocaine derivative. You were five times over the legal limit. It is a stimulant, and a banned substance.

“I cannot say what effect that quantity of drug had on your driving that day, but it is clearly a seriously aggravating feature of the offence.

“I have regard to the fact that you are a family man with young children and a wife, and that you yourself have suffered severe effects as a consequence of this.

“You lost your business as a result of the accident and spent a lengthy period of time out of work, and you have had this hanging over you – but so has Miss Murray.”