Bus crash driver may not have seen cyclist

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THE driver of a bus that hit a cyclist who later died from her injuries may not have seen the victim before pulling onto a roundabout and colliding with her, a court heard.

Expert witness Douglas Boulton said Judith Hitchings may have increased her speed, therefore remaining in the blind spot of the bus as Peter Levesque pulled onto a roundabout.

Moments later the single-decker Stagecoach bus hit Ms Hitchings, who was not wearing a helmet, knocking her from her bike and onto the road at the roundabout in Pier Road, Southsea.

Ms Hitchings was from Brackley, Northamptonshire, and was staying in Eastern Parade, Southsea, when the crash happened.

She had ridden along the seafront towards Clarence Pier, yards from where she was hit by the bus on the roundabout.

The 55-year-old was airlifted to Southampton General Hospital with multiple skull fractures following the collision, which happened shortly after 1pm on July 17.

Miss Hitchings died at about 4.30pm that day.

Talking about CCTV stills taken on the bus shortly before the crash took place, Mr Boulton told Portsmouth Crown Court: ‘[Levesque] looked to the right-hand side at the roundabout.

‘That looks like what I would expect. I wouldn’t expect any more, that’s him moving forward or backwards or whatever in his seat, because we see from there he looks right again afterwards.

‘So that to me points out he knew there was a blind spot because the bus is moving forward – he’s now looking again to see what’s in the blind spot.’

Ex-police officer Mr Boulton, who is a forensic accident investigator, added: ‘For that split second the bike could have increased speed and so even though he looked to the right she went that bit quicker and remained in the blind spot.

‘The one thing the pictures don’t show is Mr Levesque’s eyes – you don’t have to move your body to look.’

Levesque, 54, from Rothwell Close, Paulsgrove, Portsmouth denies one count of causing death by careless driving.

He was due to give evidence at Portsmouth Crown Court today.