Woman who caused cyclist to fall into road’s manslaughter conviction overturned

A pedestrian who shouted and waved her arm at a cyclist, causing her to fall into the path of an oncoming car, has had her manslaughter conviction overturned at the Court of Appeal.

Auriol Grey was seen on CCTV shouting at retired midwife Celia Ward to “get off the f****** pavement” in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, causing her to fall into the road.

Grandmother Mrs Ward, 77, of Wyton, Cambridgeshire, died after she was struck by a car in the incident in October 2020.

Ms Grey, who has cerebral palsy and partial blindness, denied manslaughter but was found guilty after a retrial and was jailed for three years in March 2023.

But at the end of a hearing on Wednesday, three judges at the Court of Appeal in London overturned her conviction.

Auriol Grey
Auriol Grey has cerebral palsy and partial blindness (Cambridgeshire Police/PA)

She continued: “In all the circumstances, we have no hesitation in concluding that the appellant’s conviction for manslaughter is unsafe.”

The court heard Ms Grey, who attended the hearing, was charged with unlawful act manslaughter – which requires an unlawful action to take place that caused death.

However, her lawyers told appeal judges that no such “base offence” was ever identified at the trial.

Auriol Grey court case
A CCTV image Celia Ward falling from her bike into the path of oncoming vehicle (Cambridgeshire Police/PA)

Dame Victoria and her fellow appeal judges agreed, ruling that the jury were not asked to decide “the fundamental question of whether a base offence was established”.

The senior judge continued: “The appellant’s actions that day contributed to Mrs Ward’s untimely death… Had Mrs Ward not died we regard it as inconceivable that the appellant would have been charged with assault.”

Ms Grey’s actions had been described as “hostile gesticulation” towards Mrs Ward during her original trial.

However, Mr Darbishire said in the appeal: “Hostile gesticulation is not a crime, otherwise we would have 50,000 football fans each weekend being apprehended.”

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had responded to the appeal, with its barrister Simon Spence KC telling the court it was accepted that “common assault as the base offence was not identified by name”.

After the judges had given their ruling, Mr Spence asked for Ms Grey’s case to be sent back to the crown court for a retrial, which was denied.

Following the ruling, Ms Grey’s family said in a statement: “Whilst we welcome the decision of the Court of Appeal our thoughts today are also with the Ward family and I am sure a day doesn’t go by when they don’t remember their tragic loss.”

Auriol Grey
Auriol Grey has had her manslaughter conviction overturned (Victoria Jones/PA)

Ms Grey’s family also said that her challenges “are not over today,” adding: “After a tough start she has strived over decades to build a normal life without seeking attention and we don’t underestimate the difficulties she will face rebuilding this.”

In a separate statement, Ms Grey’s legal team said that neither Mrs Ward’s family or Ms Grey’s “should ever have been put through this ordeal”.

They said: “As the court found, once the legal elements of the offence were properly understood, it was clear that there was no proper basis for Ms Grey to be convicted of manslaughter, or indeed any offence. As a result, her conviction was quashed.

“Ms Grey simply should never have been charged.”

The lawyers continued: “Mrs Ward should never have been faced with the choice between cycling on the pavement or cycling on a busy and dangerous ring road.

“Had a clear and well-signed cycle path been in place, safely separating vulnerable pedestrians such as Ms Grey, this accident would never have occurred.

“Equally, misconceived prosecutions and wrongful convictions such as this cause untold pain to all those affected, including the family of the deceased, as well as the person wrongly accused.”

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