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Howard and Byrne Solicitors, York - Criminal Defence Specialists

Jury in Ruby Milnes Death Case Fail to Reach Verdict

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5:13pm 9th October 2013

A jury's failed to reach a verdict in the case of the death of York teenager Ruby Milnes.

17 year old Ruby died in 2008 after a collision between her bike and a lorry on a path at York Racecourse.

Ruby's mum and dad,David and Alison have released a statement:

We’re hugely disappointed the jury couldn’t reach a verdict.  The case took an extraordinarily long time to reach court, which was very difficult for our family.  Ruby’s younger brothers and sisters have grown up in the shadow of this tragedy and with this case always looming.  We’d looked forward to finally being able to put it behind us. 

The court experience was extremely hard.  We’re grateful to witnesses such as Sarah Tweedie who addressed the court about the dangers she saw at the site.  York Racecourse Operations Manager Tony Lee’s testimony was honest and moving in the regret he expressed.  We found it particularly hard to hear defence expert, Martin Barnard, who grinned in the witness box and dismissed what happened to Ruby as “a circumstance of everyday life”.

We acknowledge the Racecourse has an otherwise unblemished Health and Safety record, but it seems they had a blind spot regarding cyclists crossing the Knavesmire.  They’d never have allowed a 20 tonne lorry to drive over the race-track at 26mph, endangering horses and jockeys, yet they permitted this to happen to cyclists.

When the tragedy happened we couldn’t understand why our daughter was killed on a traffic-free, off-road cycle path.  We’d particularly like to thank the HSE for investigating the case, which they clearly felt was important.  They took care to explain what was happening at every stage and share our disappointment in the time it took to prosecute and the inconclusive nature of the result. 

We understand Ruby is the first cyclist to be killed on an off-road cycle path.  We hope, despite the inconclusive result, the publicity this case has engendered to date will prompt all organisations to consider the safety of cyclists passing through their areas of control.  Hopefully, it’ll be Ruby’s legacy to be the last cyclist killed in this way. 

It's the first time the Racecourse has been prosecuted over health and safety issues.

In a statement earlier this year, York Racecourse said:

York Racecourse is aware of the decision of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to issue proceedings against the Racecourse relating to alleged breaches of health and safety legislation following their investigation into the death of Ruby Milnes in May 2008. 

Our first thoughts remain for the family and friends of Ruby Milnes; we offer them our sincere condolences.

The Racecourse has fully co operated with the various investigations into the sad events of that afternoon and will continue to do so.

The Racecourse takes its responsibilities in the area of Health and Safety very seriously; as well as being a key task for all members of the team, the course retains an expert in this field who guides the team through the principles of the legislation, supports the provision of important documentation, and helps assess over 5,000 individual risks, whilst creating a health and safety aware culture. York Racecourse has a good relationship with the relevant authorities and has faced no previous such proceedings.

The Health and Safety Executive told Minster FM it's "disappointed" and "considering it's position" on what it will do next but says a decision on whether to take any further action could take "quite some time".

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