Driver Gail Purcell on trial over cyclist Michael Mason's death

Michael Mason Image copyright PA
Image caption The court heard Michael Mason died after he landed head first in the road

A woman accused of knocking down and killing a cyclist in central London has gone on trial in an "unusual" private prosecution.

The Old Bailey heard Michael Mason, 70, died after he was hit by Gail Purcell's Nissan on Regent Street in February 2014.

Ms Purcell, a 59-year-old hairdresser from St Albans, Herts, denies causing death by careless driving.

The case has been brought by the Cyclists' Defence Fund.

'I just didn't see him'

The court heard Mr Mason was cycling north towards the BBC's Broadcasting House headquarters at 18.23 GMT on 25 February when he was hit by Ms Purcell's Nissan.

The teacher landed on the road and suffered a "very severe injury to the brain" before dying in hospital days later.

Simon Spence QC, prosecuting, said: "For whatever reason, the defendant simply did not see a cyclist ahead of her... in circumstances she should have done and drove into the back of him."

He said evidence would show Mr Mason's bike was illuminated at the front and back and the road was well lit and not overly busy.

The court was told Ms Purcell had informed police she hadn't seen "anybody from my left", adding: "It's like they came from the sky."

Jurors were also told a witness, Sophia Tran-Thomson, had allegedly heard Ms Purcell say: "I'm the driver. It was me... I just didn't see him."

The trial continues.

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