More than eight years after her death, the boyfriend of a Whitley Bay woman who died after an accident at a motorbike race called for more to be done to protect spectators like his "outgoing, bubbly, and positive" partner, the North Wales Daily Post reports
Judith Garrett, 29, died a day after the incident, where she was hit by an out-of-control mountain bike at a bike race in Llangollen, Denbighshire on August 31 2014. The Prudhoe-born woman had been there to watch boyfriend Peter Walton compete.
The couple had been living with Peter's family in Whitley Bay at the time of Judith's death. Now, speaking at an inquest at Ruthin County Hall in Denbighshire, North Wales, Mr Walton - an experienced downhill racer - told a coroner more needs to be done to prevent spectators from standing in exclusion zones. He argued that people should not have been allowed to stand where Judith was stood at the time of her death.
Judith suffered devastating injuries and received treatment from paramedics before she was airlifted to Stoke University Hospital. She died the next day. The senior coroner in east and central North Wales, John Gittins handed down a narrative verdict at the inquest into her death this week. The inquest had resumed following a pre-inquest review in held in 2019.
Mr Gittins recorded a narrative conclusion, finding: "On the 31st of August, 2014, whilst a spectator at a downhill mountain bike event, Judith Garrett was struck by a mountain bike which left the track, causing injuries that caused her death at the Royal Stoke University Hospital on September 1, 2014."
The coroner considered issuing a regulation 28 report to prevent future deaths - but despite the inquest's conclusion, his decision on this will be deferred and the British Cycling Federation (BCF), which organised the event, will report back to the court following a number of meetings over the coming weeks.
The organisation is to consider changes to signage and the colour of tape used to exclude spectators from certain zones - among a range of measures to be discussed. The BCF previously provided the coroner with a lengthy dossier featuring safety changes made following Judith's death.
Nigel Cowell-Clark, risk manager at BCF, told the court that no spectators have been injured in downhill racing events since Judith's death. A cause of death of "major traumatic head injury due to a collision incident with moving mountain bike" was heard at the inquest, following a post mortem by Dr Andrew Dalton.
In 2018 at Mold Crown Court, Michael Marsden, who organised the event, was cleared of failing to conduct it in such a way that people were not exposed to risk. The BCF, which sanctioned the race, was also acquitted of failing to ensure the health and safety of people attending, and race marshal Kevin Duckworth was found not guilty of failing to take reasonable care to ensure the health and safety of others.
Following Judith's death in 2014 her parents Lorna and Bill said she "was a daughter any parent would have been proud of”. Bill Garrett once served as a Prudhoe district and town councillor, while Judith's grandfather Ted Garrett was the Labour MP for Wallsend for 28 years to 1992.
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