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Michael Bryant to publish book about '28 seconds' that led to death of Darcy Allan Sheppard
21.10.11 by Buffalo Bill

The video of the initial encounter is clear: a cyclist pulls up in front of a stationary car at red traffic light, and stops; after a few moments, the car jerks forward, reverses and then drives straight into the cyclist, knocking him off his bike and onto the bonnet and off again. The car stops briefly, and then drives around the cyclist to carry on down the road. As the car passes, the cyclist grabs hold of the car. Exactly what happens next is not as obvious, as there is no video, but at least this much is not disputed: the car moves over into the oncoming carriageway, hits some street furniture on the sidewalk, denting its side-panels, and at some point, the cyclist loses his grip on the car and falls dead in the roadway.

The driver later hands himself over the police and, in due course, is charged with “criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death”. Last week, the legal proceedings reached their conclusion. The charges against the driver were dropped by the special prosecutor appointed by the province of Ontario to investigate the case, who said that the prosecution had determined that there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

An obvious miscarriage of justice, you might say, but an outcome that was feared by the Toronto messenger community once the identity of the driver became known. Michael Bryant is a former attorney general of Ontario, and Darcy Allan Sheppard was a bicycle messenger. The incident became a major media event, not least because Bryant engaged a well-known Canadian PR company very shortly after Sheppard’s death.

The above is an excerpt from an article that I wrote for the Guardian’s Comment is Free site last year. Not content with having evaded a court appearance in which the evidence would have been heard in full, rather than filtered by the media, Bryant is apparently writing a book about the affair.

“What really attracted me to this book was the unflinching description of one man’s descent into a kind of hell,” a spokesperson for Penguin, who plan to publish the book, said, with no apparent sense of irony. “He has been humbled by what happened, but more important, wants to rededicate himself to public service and to overhaul the justice system. And he has never lost sight of the fact that a man died.” Penguin is reported to say that a portion of any book proceeds will go to the Pine River Foundation for adolescent mental health and substance abuse treatment.

You may have no problem with this. On the other hand you may want to sign this petition asking Penguin to drop it.

Overdrive's words at Henry Warwick's memorial ride
Statement from Henry Warwick's family
London courier killed whilst working, 3rd February 2012
Dear Bella Bathurst
Guardian piece on Sheppard's death and trial by media
Guardian story on lorry deaths makes serious error
Larry Z dies, wake 13th February 2010
LCEF makes the London Review of Books blog and Road.cc
Action movie with messenger as central character
Daily Mail attacks cyclists, Jenny Jones says write to your MLA

  1. The old school tie routine works over there too then? Spineless legal systems are everywhere. Unbelievable…


    — b&d, London, UK    22 October 2011, 20:24    #
  2. Thanks for bringing this to my attention Bill and Will, this is a shocking story of injustice.


    — marlon celestine    22 October 2011, 21:48    #
  3. awful michael bryant.

    awful legal system.

    and awful penguin for publishing.


    — philip aspden    23 October 2011, 14:50    #
  4. shocking


    — curly    3 November 2011, 00:03    #
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