A “brilliant doctor” suffered a fatal heart attack after a careless driver knocked him off his bike while he was out cycling near Ilkley.
Dr Vincent Cavaliere, a 58-year-old father-of-two, had been club doctor with Bradford City since 1992, but 11 days after being struck by Mike Buck’s Land Rover Sport in June last year he died at Leeds General Infirmary.
Today (Fri) a “guilt-wracked” Buck, of Southfield Road, Burley-in-Wharfedale, was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, and ordered to do 250 hours unpaid work for the community after he admitted causing the doctor’s death by careless driving.
Prosecutor Michael Smith said Dr Cavaliere was a local GP of long-standing and excellent reputation who held his position at the football club with pride.
Bradford Crown Court heard that the doctor and Mr Buck had both been heading towards Ilkley on the undulating Moor Road on the evening of June 22 when the collision took place.
Although the road has a 50mph the court heard that 46-year-old Buck, and other motorists, had been “dazzled” by bright sunlight and he had slowed to about 30mph after cleaning his windscreen and putting down his sun visor.
“At about 30mph up to the point of the collision Dr Cavaliere should have been in his view for about 20 seconds,” said Mr Smith.
“It is clear from all the evidence taken together that the sunlight caused real visibility issues for the drivers.”
One driver slowed to just 5mph because of the sun and described as being “the brightest he had ever seen it”.
Following the collision Buck, who had no previous convictions and was not affected by any substances, said he had been “dazzled” by the sun and that as he drove along the road he had not seen the cyclist.
In a later police interview he said he was reasonably confident the road was clear, but the next thing he knew Dr Cavaliere was hitting the bonnet of his vehicle.
“We acknowledge that on the evidence the defendant took some steps to deal with the difficult driving conditions but ultimately those steps were inadequate,” said Mr Smith.
In a victim impact statement from the doctor’s mother Tina she said:”As busy as he was as a brilliant doctor and supporting his children, he visited me almost every day since his father died becoming a close companion as well as a loving son.
“Vincent’s daily support since his father died gave me purpose and reason to carry on. It’s hard to explain how important this was to me at the time and now it’s been taken away.
“My days and sleepless nights are filled with repeated questions as to why Vincent died and how avoidable his death was.”
She added:”I need the driver of the car and the court to understand that Vincent’s life mattered; he was a very special son and a wonderful father and many of us are suffering.”
Barrister Paul Greaney QC, for Buck, said he was truly wracked by guilt and said his client had not tried to “wriggle out of his responsibilities”.
“The defendant slowed down to well below the speed limit but he acknowledges that he could have slowed down even more and that we suggest is the extent of his failing that evening,” submitted Mr Greaney.
“Mr Buck is a thoroughly decent man who regrets extremely deeply what has happened.
“It would not be an exaggeration in this case to say that Mr Buck expresses extreme remorse of an enduring nature.”
The Recorder of Bradford Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC said Dr Cavaliere’s life had been dedicated to the service of healing and it had been taken at an young age in a collision “that should never have happened”.
“The family have been subjected to lifelong damage and their grief, and perhaps anger, will last forever,” he said.
“There are some, and it may be in this case, who will never be able to forgive you - although only in that perhaps will healing start - but you recognise also you will never be able to forgive yourself,” the judge told Buck.
Buck was also banned from driving for a year