Death-charge lorry driver walks free

Man was convicted of rape charges.
Man was convicted of rape charges.

A lorry driver who was due to stand trial yesterday accused of knocking down a cyclist in south Belfast almost three years ago has walked free from court.

James Jeffers Thompson, 52, of Rose Park, Tandragee, Co Armagh, had denied causing the death by careless driving of Michael Caulfield.

The 56-year-old father-of-four, from Saintfield in Co Down, died when he was struck by a lorry driven by Mr Thompson at the junction of Ormeau Road and Annadale Embankment on April 15, 2011.

The case returned to the headlines last year after a white ‘ghost bike’ memorial suddenly appeared at the site of the collision.

A jury was yesterday sworn in to hear the case in front of deputy Belfast Recorder Judge Corinne Philpott QC.

However, counsel for the prosecution told the judge that “following a review of evidence in this case’’ the Crown was not offering any evidence.

On the direction of the trial judge, the jury found Mr Thompson not guilty of causing the death of Mr Caulfield by driving without due care and attention.

Judge Philpott told Mr Thompson: “You are now free to go.’’

A defence barrister said Mr Thompson had asked that “his deepest sympathies be extended to Mrs Caulfield and her family’’.