The jury returned a verdict of accidental death today, 12 February 2018, at the conclusion of the inquest into the death of 33-year-old PC Richard Phillips-Schofield following a fatal cycling accident at Portsmouth’s Mountbatten Centre velodrome almost four years ago.
Richard died of his severe head and chest injuries at the Queen Alexandra Hospital on 11 March 2014. A serving Police Officer with the Hampshire Constabulary, Richard was an accomplished and highly experienced cyclist, who represented Great Britain and the police force both nationally and internationally, winning two gold medals for cycling at the World Police & Fire Games in Belfast in 2013. Richard was a popular and much loved individual and the new gym built at Portswood Police Station is named after him.
The Jury determined that Richard’s injuries were sustained due to him coming into contact at speed with an unyielding object after falling from his cycle.
After the verdict, Mr David Horsley, HM Senior Coroner for Portsmouth and South East Hampshire, heard further evidence from Jonny Clay, the Director of Cycling at British Cycling, to find out what actions had been taken and what lessons had been learned following Richard’s death.
He confirmed that British Cycling had introduced new risk assessment procedures for their venues. New fencing has been installed at the Mountbatten cycle track and at two other cycle tracks in Brighton and Carmarthen and new guidelines will be published in the coming months dealing with the latest advice on fencing design.
The coroner raised concerns about the procedures in place for stopping races once an accident had occurred and will be issuing a Regulation 28 report (also known as a prevention of future deaths report).
This report will be sent to all organisations in England and Wales that organise cycle events which will then be under a duty to respond to the coroner within 56 days detailing actions taken or proposed by those organisations to prevent future deaths in similar circumstances.
The family’s solicitor Phil Barnes, of Shoosmiths commented:
‘Through the process of the inquest, the family have gained some more knowledge and understanding of what happened on that tragic day. However, they still have a number of unanswered questions as to why the safety of the fencing was not assessed and they intend to pursue civil action.’
Speaking on behalf of the family, Richard’s father, Frederick, said:
‘Richard was a loving son, brother and partner. The family are devastated that he died at such a young age and in such tragic circumstances doing the sport that he loved. The family would like to thank all of the witnesses who attended to give evidence and for the support provided by family and friends throughout the inquest.
It has been a traumatic experience for all the family and, although we have got some answers, there is no real sense of closure. The barriers played a significant part in Richard’s death and, in our view, were clearly unsafe and we believe that the event should never have taken place at all.
We are upset that British Cycling did not express their condolences at the time of Richard’s death.’
Frederick welcomes the steps that have been taken to improve safety on tracks following Richard’s death and the coroner’s decision to prepare a Regulation 28 report:
‘It’s telling that, since Richard’s tragic death, belated though it might be, the unsafe barriers at all three closed circuit tracks - the Mountbatten Centre and tracks in Wales and Scotland – have been replaced. Although it required my son’s preventable death before action was taken, hopefully that will mean other families do not have to go through what we have experienced.’
For further information please contact:
Allan Bisset, Shoosmiths
Telephone : 03700 866736
Email : [email protected]
Additional Media Coverage
BBC South Today
Richard Phillips-Schofield death 'devastating', police officer's family says (13 February 2018)
Cyclist Richard Phillips-Schofield 'vying for position' before crash (5 February 2018)
Death of Solihull born policeman and cyclist, 33, ruled as 'accidental' (13 February 2018)
The News (Portsmouth)
Dad breaks down as he recalls crash that killed his cyclist son (6 February 2018)