Wembley bus driver cleared of killing fashion student

Female worker was accused of causing death by dangerous driving

A BUS driver accused of causing death by careless driving after a cyclist died in an accident has been cleared in court.

Blackfriars Crown Court heard Leola Burte, 25, of Llanover Road, Wembley, did not realise she had hit 22-year-old Dorothy Elder until she heard clattering under the vehicle and another motorist flashed his headlights.

Jurors heard claims that Burte changed lanes without indicating which resulting in her knocking down and killing the fashion student.

She died 11 days after the accident on November 11, 2009.

Prosecutors claimed Burte, who was driving a number 98 bus, should have seen the cyclist move in front of the bus to turn right and as a result her driving ‘fell below the standard of a competent driver’.

But defence expert Barry Wheeler said Burte’s view of the cyclist ‘may have been obscured’ by a combination of the windscreen wipers and fittings, and the driver’s cab.

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He added there may have been a three-second window for her to spot Ms Elder become a hazard, but the driver would have been focusing on the more immediate traffic dangers to her right.

He said: “Clearly it’s hard to pick up things when it’s dark, at night, particularly when a person’s wearing dark clothing.”

Hamish Reid, prosecuting, said: “Speed does not appear to have played a part. It may be suggested that Miss Elder should have worn more visible clothing and should not have ridden in front of Miss Burte in the first place.

“However, the prosecution suggests that she was there to be seen and that Miss Burte fell below the standard of a competent driver by not seeing her and failing to take appropriate action.”

The jury took less than 40 minutes to clear Burte, who had denied any wrongdoing.