The father of an artist killed when a bus hit her bicycle on a busy shopping street said today the family had been through “sheer hell” as the driver was acquitted.
Carlton Lewars, 60, of Gladstone Avenue, Tottenham, north London walked free from Southwark Crown Court after prosecutors offered no evidence against him.
He had been accused of causing death by dangerous driving after his bus hit Jayne Helliwell, from Braunston in Northamptonshire, as she cycled along Oxford Street in the West End of London in April last year.
The artist and photographer was on her way to a photo shoot with the band Fun Lovin’ Criminals when she was killed.
Speaking outside court, Miss Helliwell’s father Peter said: “I want the judge to know that we were in court today and that we were going through sheer hell.
“She was 25 years old, at the height of everything, taken away in an instant where she was on her shoot. Everybody is absolutely devastated.”
However he said that the family and Miss Helliwell’s grieving boyfriend Daniel Smallwood do not blame Mr Lewars for what happened.
“We bear no animosity towards Mr Lewars, and Jayne my daughter would not have wanted that man to go to prison. She was not that kind of person,” he said.
Relatives of Miss Helliwell including her mother Barbara, 59, aunt Chris Bradshaw, 57, sister Vicki, 31, and her partner Colin Prince, 48, were at court today.
Mr Lewars claimed that a sudden attack of sciatic pain meant that he could not control his foot at the time of the crash, and so was pressing the accelerator pedal rather than the brake.
Mr Helliwell said: “Sciatica has now been brought into the fore and if you suddenly have this kind of reaction should a driver be employed if they have sciatic pain?”
His daughter, who studied at Kingston University, cycled regularly and had her bike specially adapted for city riding.
She had been with her boyfriend Mr Smallwood for 10 years, but he was too devastated to come into court today, Mr Helliwell said.
Ms Bradshaw paid tribute to her niece, saying: “Jayne was the most beautiful person. She was beautiful inside and out. She was happy and creative and she was loyal to everybody. Everybody loved her.”
Prosecutor Barry Gregory explained that the CPS had decided to offer no evidence in the case because “it is not now sure that the prosecution could reach the high standard of proving, so that the jury would be sure, that Mr Lewars drove far below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver given those medical circumstances in which it has already been shown that he would not have been able to forsee the sciatica coming on in the way in which it did, causing him to press the accelerator rather than to press or try to press the brake.”
Mr Lewars’ bus hit Miss Helliwell’s bike and then collided with another bus, before hitting a bus shelter.
Judge Deborah Taylor told the court: “It is always a great tragedy when someone is killed in an accident of this kind.”
But she said she was sure the victim’s family, would appreciate the “very unusual circumstances”.
A Metroline spokesperson said: “We offered our deepest sympathies in a letter to the family last year.
“We continue to offer our condolences and remain deeply saddened by this tragic accident.”