September 26, 2018
A P-plate driver who fatally hit British ultra-endurance cyclist Mike Hall will not be forced to give evidence to the coronial inquest into his death.
Shegu Bobb was 19 when he hit Hall on the Monaro Highway, south of Canberra, in darkness at 6.22am on 31 March last year.
Hall, who was running second in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race – a 5,500km event from Fremantle to Sydney – died at the scene.
Ken Archer, counsel assisting, told the court on Wednesday that Bobb had proven to be a “highly suggestible” witness in interviews with police.
He said he should be not be compelled to give evidence.
“Mr Bobb has consistently said he simply did not see Mr Hall,” Archer said.
The coroner, Bernadette Boss, said English was a second language for Bobb, who was born in Sierra Leone and moved to Australia in 2005.
She said he was a very vulnerable person who would add little to the evidence already heard during the first two-and-a-half days of the inquest.
“The quality of his evidence would be very poor,” Boss said.
Craig Lynch, representing Hall’s partner Anna Haslock, did not object.
Archer said Hall’s mother also didn’t push for Bobb to be put on the witness stand.
Earlier on Wednesday, witnesses told the court they had seen Bobb after the incident with his phone in his lap with triple-zero on the line but unable to speak due to shock.
Witnesses have given conflicting accounts of Hall’s visibility on the morning he was killed.
A video was shown of Hall riding less than 12 hours before his death, with both front and rear lights working. But a truck driver, Matthew Smith, said he saw Hall “wandering” on the road, forcing Smith to drive on the wrong side to avoid him.
“The morning I saw him he wasn’t lit up like that [on the video],” Smith said.
Snr Const Craig Slater, who is stationed at the nearby town of Michelago, passed Hall travelling in the opposite direction and said he was hard to see.
Asked why he didn’t stop to tell Hall he was at risk, Slater said: “It’s a question I ask myself to this day.”
Hall’s death sent shockwaves through the cycling community, with the respected rider considered one of the best ultra-endurance competitors in the world.