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Cameron Frewer: Killer motorist John Joseph Taylor skips court for sentencing

The Advertiser 2020-02-10 12:05:00

The family of a prominent cycling safety campaigner who was hit by a car and killed has been dealt a fresh blow, with the motorist responsible dodging court today.

Cameron Frewer, 44, was out for a morning ride near his home on the Sunshine Coast in November 2018 when he was struck by a ute, just months after launching the Drive Safe, Pass Wide campaign.

Police later charged the driver, John Joseph Taylor, with dangerously operating or interfering with the operation of a vehicle causing death, and driving while a drug is present in blood or saliva.

He was due to be sentenced in Maroochydore District Court today but failed to appear. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

The court heard that Taylor’s lawyers “did everything they could” to have him there.

Mr Frewer’s widow Catherine was to read out a victim impact statement while facing her husband’s killer, in what was to serve as a powerful road safety message.

RELATED: A widow’s heartache at the death of her cycling safety husband

Emily Billiau, principal of Cycle Law – a division of McInnes Wilson Lawyers – said Taylor’s no-show highlights the need for tougher penalties for motorists who cause the death of cyclists.

“Today has not brought closure to the criminal proceedings sought by Cameron’s family, and a long road is still ahead for his wife and three children who have tragically lost their husband and father,” Ms Billiau said.

“We support tough penalties, especially where it has resulted in the loss of life in circumstances like this, or a permanent disablement.

“Police have a very important role in ensuring safety on our roads, but they are limited to enforcing the road rules and initiating criminal proceedings within the confines of these laws.

“Cameron’s family has a difficult path ahead of them with financial considerations and the like and may have to turn to other avenues for justice and compensation.”

RELATED: A widow’s request for everyone behind the wheel of a car, after losing her husband

Mr Frewer’s death led to an outpouring of grief within the cycling community and furious calls for authorities in Queensland to properly enforce existing safety laws.

It inspired a campaign by, and following mounting pressure, the Queensland Government said it would refer submissions to the Crime and Corruption Commission to examine how adequately authorities had enforced a law requiring motorists to leave a safe distance when passing bicycle riders.

Catherine spoke at length about her husband, with whom she has three children, and his fight to make the roads safer for everyone.

“Kids should be able to ride their bikes,” she said at the time. “Families should be able to go out for a ride. People should be able to ride to work, get out there for exercise … we shouldn’t be afraid. We shouldn’t have to be unsafe.”

RELATED: War of words between cyclists and motorists rages on after safety activist Cameron Frewer’s death

Days before he was killed, Mr Frewer wrote to then Bicycle Queensland chief executive officer Anne Savage — also a close friend — about an open letter he had written.

Addressed to Queensland Police, transport officials and cycling advocates, it was a lengthy expression of his frustration that existing laws, requiring the 1m gap, were not being enforced.

Authorities in the state issued just 70 infringement notices in 2017 for motorists failing to comply, which Ms Savage said was a tiny percentage of incidents.

“I just felt the need to say my piece in the event something ever happens to me — God forbid,” Mr Frewer wrote in a note to her, accompanying the open letter.

“I know I am not the only rider with these issues. I am not trying to big note myself but to cover all bases for whatever transpires.”

Originally published as Cycling campaigner’s killer skips court