St Albans death crash cyclist ‘had taken cannabis’

H.M. Coroner's Court

H.M. Coroner's Court - Credit: Archant

An ‘oblivious’ cyclist who died after colliding with a car on a St Albans A-road had a significant amount of cannabis in his blood, an inquest heard last week.

Lyubomir Paskalev, 39, was killed on the A405 North Orbital Road in Chiswell Green on April 28 last year.

An inquest held at the Coroner’s Court in Hatfield last Thursday (3) was told by the motorist who collided with him, Kevan Flanagan, that he had not seen the cyclist, a Bulgarian national who lived in How Wood, Park Street.

Mr Paskalev was cycling between the Park Street roundabout and the Tippendell Lane roundabout after 10pm when his bike collided with a blue Ford Focus RS, driven by Mr Flanagan, who was travelling in the same direction.

Only one lane of the dual carriage was open because workers were cutting the grass, so traffic cones had been placed to prevent entry.

Constable Matthew Hollingworth, investigating, said that a witness saw a bike, which had no lights and was wobbling in the middle of the road, being ridden by a cyclist wearing dark-coloured clothes and a dark hat.

PC Hollingsworth told deputy coroner Graham Danbury the witness wondered if Mr Paskalev had been drinking due to the manner of his riding, and that he seemed “oblivious to everything around him”.

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Another witness said his cycling was ‘erratic’.

The bike was described as being “in a neglected condition, but capable of being ridden without difficulty”.

PC Robert Jackson, who investigated the dynamics of the crash, said the road was dark and wet from rain, and all street lights were in working order.

He added: “The damage to the bicycle and car indicated the cyclist had come off and been wrapped around the front of the car.”

Mr Flanagan was travelling to his home in Slough, with his partner driving their young son in a car behind. He said that he was talking to his partner on the phone via Bluetooth, and driving at a speed of about 40mph.

He did not become aware of Mr Paskalev until impact, when the cyclist collided with the front right hand side of his car.

Mr Flanagan said: “I didn’t see him, otherwise I would have slowed down obviously. There was no time to react in any way.

“I slowed down to pull in to the closed lane [after the collision]. I was on the phone at the time and told my partner what had happened.

“Being on the phone did not distract me.”

A post-mortem examination, carried out on May 4, showed that Mr Paskalev had cannabis in his system, and died as a result of multiple skull fractures.

Mr Danbury told the court: “It’s quite clear to me that on this occasion Mr Paskalev’s ability to ride his cycle was significantly impaired by his having taken cannabis.

“The cycle was not carrying lights or a rear reflector and evidence of independent witnesses shows that the rider was wearing dark clothing.

“He was cycling in the closed-off lane. For reasons unknown he decided to move across without choosing to heed that there was traffic in the other lane, which made the collision inevitable and entirely unavoidable in respect to Mr Flanagan.”