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Driver blames low sun for fatal accident near Durham – The Northern Echo

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A MOTORIST involved in a crash that killed a cyclist claims he was blinded by a low sun.

But prosecutors believe Aidan Tait’s inability to spot cyclist Fred Heppell ahead of him was exacerbated by his dirty windscreen, due to a lack of screenwash.


Mr Heppell, from Lanchester, County Durham, was on the southbound side of the A177, between Bowburn and Shincliffe, near Durham, at about 9.20am on Friday November 10, 2017, when he was hit by a blue Tesla car, driven by Mr Tait.

The 80-year-old retired bank manager was airlifted from the scene in a critical condition, but his death was confirmed at James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, later that day.

Appearing at a plea hearing at Durham Crown Court, 36-year-old Mr Tait, of Griffiths Court, Bowburn, denied causing the death of Mr Heppell by careless driving.

Paul Cleasby, prosecuting, told the court: “The cyclist was in the correct lane and was there to be seen.

“There’s evidence of a lack of fluid in the washers.”

Mr Cleasby, who accepted there was a low sun, said the warning light would have indicated the lack of fluid.

Tom Gent, for Mr Tait, said the defence case rests on the effect of the low sun on visibility, while there was an issue over the extent of the advance fluid warning.

Mr Tait was bailed to return for trial, starting on September 9.

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