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Driver gets life term for cyclist murder

A driver who deliberately knocked down and killed a cyclist in a road rage attack was jailed for life today after being convicted of murder, court officials said.

A judge at Warwick Crown Court ordered Sean Richard Fitzgerald, who claimed the collision with Paul Webb was an accident, to serve at least 13 years before being considered for parole.

A six-day trial heard that Fitzgerald, 36, "used his car as a weapon" to target Mr Webb after the cyclist damaged his wing mirror and pedalled away from the scene of the initial collision.

Fitzgerald, of Bennetts Road North, Keresley End, Coventry, pulled over at the side of the road after the first incident, but then chased and rammed Mr Webb's mountain bike, catapulting him into a wall near a pub.

Mr Webb, a 42-year-old warehouse worker, died at the scene in Bennetts Road South, Coventry, on April 16 last year, after suffering a catalogue of fractures and internal injuries.

In a statement read to the court on the second day of Fitzgerald's trial, forensic pathologist James Lucas said all of Mr Webb's left ribs were found to be fractured after his death.

Dr Lucas, who conducted a post-mortem examination on April 17, recorded the cause of Mr Webb's death as multiple injuries sustained in a collision.

The most serious of the injuries, the court heard, involved Mr Webb's chest area and included seven lung punctures and a tear in his main artery.

In his statement, Dr Lucas also confirmed that he had identified damage to the liver and various fractures of the skull, shoulder blade, pelvis and spine.

A court official confirmed that Fitzgerald had been convicted of murder and that no verdict had been taken on an lesser alternative charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

In a statement issued after the end of the trial, a spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: "The jury convicted the defendant after trial.

"We are pleased with the result and our thoughts are very much with the family of the deceased."

During the trial, work-mates Craig Cheshire and Michael Bogusz told the court they went to the scene of the collision after hearing the fatal impact.

The men, who were working on the driveway at a nearby property, saw Mr Webb pedal past and then heard the sound of a car.

Mr Cheshire told the jury he heard "the roar of an engine" shortly after recognising Mr Webb, whom he used to work with.

Giving evidence, Mr Cheshire said he then heard what sounded like a "clatter of bins" and that his first thought was that there had been an accident.

Mr Bogusz said of the passing car: "The noise it was making, it was travelling - travelling at a speed.

"We both looked at each other said 'What the hell was that?' Then shortly after that there was a large noise like metal hitting metal.

"I thought he had put it (the car) into a bus shelter."