Dad breaks down as he recalls crash that killed his cyclist son

Richard Phillips-Schofield
Richard Phillips-Schofield
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The proud dad of a policeman killed in a cycling race broke down in tears as he recalled the horrific collision to an inquest.

PC Richard Phillips-Schofield died after he was involved in a multi-bike pile-up at the Mountbatten Centre velodrome on March 9, 2014.

Frederick and Elizabeth Phillips-Schofield, the parents of Richard Phillips-Schofield

Frederick and Elizabeth Phillips-Schofield, the parents of Richard Phillips-Schofield

The 33-year-old suffered severe head and chest injuries and was pronounced brain dead two days later at Queen Alexandra Hospital on March 11.

Describing the collision, Richard’s dad Frederick Phillips-Schofield told an inquest jury at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court he feared the worst after witnessing the accident.

‘I saw a large group of cyclists going at a hell of a pace before seeing bikes going through the air,’ he said.

‘I jumped on to the track and raced over and saw Richard with his number 16 on his back. He was badly hurt.

Richard Phillips-Schofield Picture: Hampshire police/PA Wire

Richard Phillips-Schofield Picture: Hampshire police/PA Wire

‘There were a few people around him but I couldn’t see any first aid or tell who was taking control.

‘A lady put Richard’s head under her fleece and someone asked Richard to squeeze his hand.

‘He was groaning and couldn’t focus. Blood was coming out of his mouth and I couldn’t hear what he was saying.’

Mr Phillips-Schofield then described the heartbreaking moment two days later when doctors said Richard’s injuries were so severe he couldn’t be saved.

‘We were initially told there was a slim chance he would be OK but eventually they told us there was nothing more they could do as he was brain dead,’ he said.

Speaking of his pride of his son’s achievements, Mr Phillips-Schofield added: ‘He started off in local races and after winning those he was asked to join the national races, which he won,’ he said.

‘Richard won the next four national championships and was part of the British mountain bike team who would travel around Europe. I would go and watch him everywhere.’

The inquest heard how Richard – who had risen to eighth in the world mountain bike rankings at one stage – was caught in the pile-up as riders jockeyed for position after the bell for the final lap of the one-hour race.

Describing the incident, cyclist Thomas Morris said: ‘There was a sprint for the finish before something happened causing someone to brake,’ he said.

‘It was too close to react and I saw riders going over me. I went over my handlebars and cracked my helmet. I could see it was a serious accident.’

Another cyclist in the race, David Billings, said he had a ‘strange feeling about the race’ after a slow pace meant everyone was in contention for winning points.

He said the Mountbatten Centre track was ‘one of the most narrow circuits’ he had raced on while he had also ‘seen some nasty crashes before’ there.

Spectator Robert Morris, whose son was in the race, was standing nearby to the accident. ‘I was concerned as there were a lot of riders bunched together and accelerating,’ he said.

‘I saw someone wobble into someone else before it rippled up and some riders hit the barrier and went flying. It was like a domino affect that came to an abrupt end after an explosion.’

His wife Jenny Morris added: ‘It was like a volcano of legs and bikes in the air. I said at the time “this looks dangerous”. My legs went to jelly and we were screaming for the other riders to stop.’

Richard, who had been a policeman for 10 years in Hampshire, represented the force nationally and internationally in the sport.

He also won two gold medals for cycling at the World Police & Fire Games in Belfast in 2013.

His family hope the inquest will shed light on the tragic events.

‘The family hope to get clarity and answers to the many questions they have about what caused Richard’s death,’ a family statement said.