A LORRY driver has been cleared of causing death by dangerous driving following the crash which killed a cyclist and injured his friend.

Richard Merris was behind the wheel of an articulated lorry on the A449 at Hartlebury when there was crash between his HGV and two cyclists. Barry Brettell of Brierley Hill was declared dead at the scene following the crash on October 22, 2018.

His friend William Higgins, also known as Roy, was also seriously injured as the front of the lorry struck the cyclist from behind. A jury yesterday cleared the 50-year-old of causing death by dangerous driving and death by careless driving in relation to Mr Brettell and of causing serious injury by dangerous driving in relation to Mr Higgins.

Mr Brettell suffered multiple injuries in the crash, captured on CCTV from a nearby metal yard, which happened at around 10.55am. Mr Merris had been delivering sand on behalf of Rayven Transport, where he was a director, to Hanson's Concrete in Sherriff Street, Worcester.

It was sunny day and both cyclists had been wearing helmets and light-coloured or fluorescent clothing. Mr Brettell's post-mortem revealed 'extensive, multiple rib fractures', a fracture of the thoracic spine, 'catastrophic' haemorrhaging around the ribs and throat injuries including bruising to the larynx and a fracture of the hyoid bone.

Mr Merris of Masters Lane, Halesowen, said he had seen the cyclists and left enough room to overtake them as he drove in the direction of Worcester. A police officer at the scene had taken a note of what Mr Merris said. Mr Merris had told him: "The two of them were parallel and one of them wobbled out."

In the witness box he also said he had 'moved over' to pass the cyclists and also said he had been momentarily blinded by the sun. When he heard a bang he thought he had a tyre burnout - carrying out progressive breaking to avoid the lorry veering off.

Mr Merris estimated he had been travelling at 40 to 43mph hour and evidence showed he was driving within the speed limit when the crash happened.

Michael Prime, the defence’s expert witness who has worked in investigating road traffic collisions for more than 30 years, said it was “entirely plausible” Mr Brettell had moved into the path of the lorry.

Mr Merris, wearing a dark suit, showed no emotion in the dock although he briefly closed his eyes when the first two not guilty verdicts came in after 5 hours and 56 minutes of deliberations.

The jury then retired to continued deliberating the remaining count (the causing death by careless driving) but returned a further not guilty verdict after 6 hours and 6 minutes of deliberations. Sobbing could be heard from the public gallery.

Judge Nicolas Cartwright said: "Mr Merris can be discharged. You can leave the dock Mr Merris."