A CYCLIST who struck an elderly lady who later died from her injuries said he was ‘very sorry’ and the ‘accident was unavoidable’, a jury has heard.

Edward Bressan, 56, of Newton Road, Oxford, is currently on trial at Oxford Crown Court accused of causing injury to 81-year-old Polly Friedhoff on the River Thames towpath last November by cycling ‘wantonly or furiously’ on his B’Twin bicycle.

Ms Friedhoff was knocked by Bressan and fell to the ground after the collision near Iffley Lock on November 20, 2022. She died in hospital 12 days later.

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Bressan denied the offence and told police he had rang his bell to alert Ms Friedhoff and her friend, Eve Huggins, but she had ‘stepped into his path’.

During the trial on Tuesday (July 9), Bressan gave his account of the incident which he described as ‘unavoidable’.

In a prepared statement that he provided to police, the cyclist said that at about 12.41pm on the Sunday, he was travelling home from Sainsbury’s at Heyford Hill roundabout.

He said he was cycling at a ‘moderate pace’ because there were other cyclists and pedestrians on the towpath.

“There were two pedestrians on the towpath and I rang my bell to signal I was approaching,” he said. “I moved to the left side of the towpath with the assumption they would move to the right side.

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“The pedestrian on the right moved to the right to let me pass and she gestured to her friend to do the same.

“I heard her say, ‘Cyclist approaching’. Unexpectantly, she moved to the left and the bicycle hit her. Although I was cycling slowly, the lady lost balance and fell on her face without cushioning the fall with her hands or shoulders.”

Bressan said that several passers-by came over to help and gave their coats to Ms Friedhoff to help with the cold.

He said emergency services arrived quickly and he was escorted away from the towpath by a police officer. He voluntarily gave an account of the incident and took part in a drink and drug breathalyser and the results were negative.

“I’m very upset and sorry this very unfortunate accident occurred,” he said. “However, I do not believe I was cycling carelessly or dangerously.

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“I was fully aware of my surroundings and gave adequate warning for the pedestrians to move out of the way.

“She moved into my line and made the accident unavoidable.”

The trial, expected to last for only this week, continues.