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Inquest Into Cyclist’s Death At Bristol Docks

Expert Serious Injury Lawyers Instructed To Investigate Potential Safety Issues


The heartbroken partner of a cyclist, who died after falling from his bike into Bristol’s floating harbour, has called for new safety measures on the quayside to prevent any further accidents.

Sean Phillips, 40, from Blackwell, North Somerset, died when his front wheel caught in the rails which guide the cranes on Prince’s Wharf in Bristol and was thrown into the floating harbour in March last year.

Following an inquest at Flax Bourton Coroner’s Court today (12 March 2014) HM Coroner Maria Voisin recorded an accidental death verdict.

The coroner stated she was pleased that Bristol City Council are going to implement recommendations from a report from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to improve safety around Bristol’s dockside and based on the Council’s assurances she would not be making any further report of her own.

Sean’s partner, Hayley Liddle has instructed expert serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether more could have been done by Bristol City Council to make the area surrounding the Bristol docks safe and prevent people from falling into the water.

The Coroner’s Court heard that Bristol City Council had identified concerns with safety for cyclists over ten years ago and with increasing development of the M Shed and surrounding dockside areas in recent years the problems had become more acute with regular cycling accidents being caused by dockside rails.

Anusheh Ahmadi, an expert serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office, representing Hayley, said: "Sean’s family and friends were naturally devastated by his death and it has been difficult to hear the circumstances surrounding this accident and especially devastating as Sean’s two children, Callum and Toby are left without a dad.

"We welcome the coroner’s comments and that Bristol City Council has agreed with the recommendations from RoSPA and that they will ensure new safety measures will be put in place. It is clear from evidence heard at this inquest that more could and should have been done to improve safety in the M Shed area of Prince’s Wharf given safety concerns which date back over a decade.

"If some simple measures had been taken then we think the evidence shows that Sean’s tragic death would have been prevented.

"We hope that Bristol City Council will fulfil their assurances to the coroner and implement these long overdue changes without further delay."

Sean’s accident happened as he was cycling along the dockside, in front of the M Shed museum when it is thought that his wheel got stuck in the rails and he fell from his bike into the water. Two members of the public jumped into the water to rescue him before emergency services arrived, but despite their efforts he died at the scene.

After the accident the Council erected temporary barriers and now plan to implement the recommendations of inland water safety experts at RoSPA. Irwin Mitchell along with Sean’s partner Hayley believe more could have been and now must be done.

Hayley, 43, said following the inquest: "This has been a complete nightmare for me and our family. I am pleased that the coroner has investigated the circumstances leading up to Sean’s death, but we are still searching for answers as to whether more could have been done.

"I really hope that steps are taken to ensure the safety of other people who use this public path on a daily basis to prevent any future accidents. Although nothing can bring Sean back we want to ensure that his death was not in vain and others do not suffer in future."

If you’ve been injured in a road traffic accident whilst cycling, our No Win No Fee solicitors could help you claim compensation. See our Cycling Accident Compensation page for more information.

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