A cement lorry driver is facing jail for running over and killing a design student on her bike after missing opportunities to see her in his mirrors.
Award-winning interior design student Giovanna Cappiello, 29, was killed by Stephen Hempenstall’s 32-tonne truck as she cycled through Battersea on July 4, 2019.
The Mercedes Arco cement mixer lorry was fitted with a range of safety measures, including side scanners and specially adapted mirrors, Inner London Crown Court heard.
But Hempenstall, 52, failed to look properly or check his visual aids before he turned left across Ms Cappiello’s path and ran her over, it was said.
CCTV cameras caught him holding a piece of paper in his hand and he was ‘in a plainly distracted state,’ jurors heard.
Award-winning interior design student Giovanna Cappiello, 29, was killed by Stephen Hempenstall’s 32-tonne truck as she cycled through Battersea on July 4, 2019
Hempenstall later told an officer at the scene: ‘I don’t know where the cyclist I hit came from. I did not see her in my mirrors.’
He denied causing death by careless driving but was convicted of the charge after a week-long trial.
He was given an interim disqualification from driving ahead of sentence on 20 March.
The University of the Arts in London student was two weeks from graduating at the time of her death after being the first in her course to achieve A+ grades in theory and practice.
Hempenstall was driving along Silverthorne Road at about 3:10pm when he stopped at traffic lights at the junction with Wandsworth Road and signalled to turn left.
‘As Miss Cappiello drew alongside the cab area of the lorry, Mr Hempenstall turned left across her, running her over and killing her,’ said Hamish Common, prosecuting.
Ms Cappiello suffered catastrophic injuries from the collision.
Hempenstall, 52, failed to look properly or check his visual aids before he turned left across Ms Cappiello’s path and ran her over, it was said
Prosecutor Hamish Common said Hempenstall was driving along Silverthorne Road while Ms Cappiello was riding her bicycle in the same direction.
He said: ‘They reached the cross-roads with the Wandsworth Road. The lorry arrived at the traffic lights first and stopped.
‘Miss Cappiello cycled past the nearside of other stationary traffic until the lights turned green.
‘As the lorry moved away Miss Cappiello caught and began to pass the lorry on its left.
‘As Miss Cappiello drew alongside the cab area of the lorry, Mr Hempenstall turned left across her, running her over and killing her.
‘The prosecution alleges that his driving was careless.’
Mr Common said the truck driver left the Battersea Concrete Plant in Silverthorne Road and started his journey south after reloading his vehicle with ready mixed concrete.
‘Mr Hempenstall was holding some paper in his right hand whilst he was driving.
Mr Common said that this indicated that Hempenstall was driving ‘in a plainly distracted state.’
‘If one is driving a large vehicle, one needs to check in particular to one’s left to see that there are no vulnerable road users in the vicinity.
‘He didn’t look left at all before that turn. He missed plenty of opportunities to see Miss Capiello in his mirrors.’
Hempenstall was questioned by the police and ‘essentially said that he did not see Miss Capiello’.
Christopher Martin, defending, said while he was not looking to blame Ms Cappiello, she had been at fault.
He said: ‘Tragically you may all conclude that the reality of this case is that [her] decision to undertake that lorry, signalling as it was, was in fact the cause of the collision, and cause of Ms Cappiello’s tragic death.’
He said it was ultimately a ‘tragic accident’ and it wasn’t necessary to apportion blame.
‘Whatever fault you find I would suggest to you it’s not criminal.
‘It was a tragic accident, an accident that everyone wishes hadn’t happened.
‘But it doesn’t follow that in every accident someone has committed a criminal offence and has to bear responsibility.’
Hempenstall, of Thornhill Road, Uxbridge, denied but was convicted of causing death by careless driving.