Erith cyclist killed under lorry on morning commute to Silvertown, inquest told

The scene of the collision in Silvertown. Picture: Jay Stewart

The scene of the collision in Silvertown. Picture: Jay Stewart - Credit: Jay Stewart

A cyclist killed under a lorry in Silvertown died after the driver failed to spot him fall off his bike on a muddy road, an inquest heard.

Benjamin Wales, 32, crashed his bike on the commute to Tate and Lyle’s Plaistow Wharf sugar refinery seconds before a tipper truck drove over him.

Driver Jose Rodrigues had been on a hands-free phone call at the time he struck the father-of-two on February 9 last year.

Emergency crews pronounced Mr Wales, from Erith, dead at the scene in the Knights Road junction with North Woolwich Road, close to the factory site.

An investigation into his death, led by assistant coroner Elizabeth Bussey-Jones, seeks to find out whether slippery conditions caused by mud or water contributed to his death.

Giving evidence at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court on Thursday, collision expert David Hague said there was enough mud to “obscure” road markings, according to photos and dash cam footage.

Muck tracked in from vehicles at trucking firm RMS, whose site Mr Rodrigues was leaving, lowered the level of grip on the street, he said, adding this “seems likely a contributing factor” for the crash.

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Mr Hague, 46, who was instructed by Newham Council, a body legally represented during the day’s proceedings along with Tate and Lyle Sugars, the Environment Agency, RMS and their neighbouring firm Tarmac Trading, said the lorry’s dash cam footage shows Mr Wales breaking as his front wheels move onto a dark part of the road.

Mr Wales was wearing high-visibility clothing with the nearby cycle lane closed in sections. It is unclear whether Mr Rodrigues checked his mirrors before driving on.

Speaking via Skype, RMS director Dominic Parkinson said about 50 tipper trucks run out of the site, each averaging five loads a day.

While the site had no wheel washer in place that day, the 45-year-old said facilities including an old fire engine meant lorries were cleaned properly before heading out.

Tate and Lyle Sugars local affairs manager Chris Abell and Carolyn Barnes, of the Environment Agency, however, both said pollution in the busy industrial area was a concern.

The inquest continues.