Man accused of killing cyclist Shaun Mullan, 28, by careless driving acquitted

It has emerged that a man who was charged over the death of a 28-year-old cyclist has been acquitted.

One of the many tributes to Shaun Mullan

The News Letter has unearthed the verdict in the aftermath of an inquest into the death of the crash victim, Shaun Paul Mullan.

Back in November 2017 when the accident happened, there had been an outpouring of grief from those who knew him; he was a GAA enthusiast, keen cyclist, and had married his wife Sinead just four months before he was killed.

His daughter was born after his death.

The inquest into his death concluded just over a week ago, and heard evidence that the injuries to his brain “were not survivable” even though he had been wearing a helmet.

He had been cycling from his home in Maghera to Castledawson, wearing high-vis clothing and with reflectors on his bike – though in the circumstances these did little to help.

The road was damp and it was just after dawn, with the sun low in the sky, causing glare off the road surface.

He was struck by the bonnet and windscreen of a Ford Transit van which was thought to have been travelling at 50-60mph.

He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where he “lost cardiac output” – though this was restored 10 minutes later.

But it wasn’t enough to save him, and his family agreed to switch off life support.

A forensic scientist said that at 8.25am, the time of the crash, “the sun would have caused visibility issues for the driver of the van”, and it was likely that he “had insufficient time to react to the presence of the cyclist prior to the impact occurring”.

The scientist said it was possible that the cyclist came into view when the van was 20-30 metres away (65 to 98ft), or possibly less.

It was therefore “likely that the van driver had insufficient time to react”.

The findings said: “The lane was wide enough (3.2m, 10.5ft) for a vehicle to pass a cyclist without making contact, as it seems other vehicles did before the van struck Mr Mullan.”

It also states that Highway Code guidance “suggests that if faced with bright sunlight, drivers should slow down”.

Dermot McCloskey (whose address was reportedly New Street in Dungiven, and who is in his mid-40s) went on to be charged with causing death or grievous bodily injury by careless driving.

Although an online court report sets out that Mr McCloskey had appeared at Magherafelt Magistrates’ Court in January of 2020, for some reason the News Letter can find no record of what actually happened.

It turns out that Mr McCloskey had pleaded not guilty to the charge, and the Court Service has now told the News Letter that he was acquitted on December 16 last year.

After his death Mr Mullan’s organs were harvested and as a result “a number of people are alive today who would not be,” the coroner said in his written findings.

They add: “A lady in her 30s received one of Mr Mullan’s kidneys. This lady had been waiting for a transplant for just under two-and-half years.

“A gentleman in his 50s also received a kidney. This gentleman had been on the waiting list for three years. A gentleman in his 60s received a liver which saved his life.”

The coroner concluded that his family could be “rightly proud” of the legacy he had left.

They concluded: “Further infrastructure investments are required to make cycling safer and motorists must continue to appreciate that cyclists have every right to be on the roads and use the roads.

“Cyclists are vulnerable road users and every road user should be careful to consider cyclists when driving on the roads.”

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