THE DEATH of a 33-year-old Solihull born policeman and cyclist has been ruled as ‘accidental’ after he hit ‘unsafe’ barriers.
Police constable Richard Phillips-Schofield died in a fatal accident at Portsmouth’s Mountbatten Centre velodrome four years ago.
The jury returned a verdict of accidental death today at the inquest.
He died of severe head and chest injuries at the Queen Alexandra Hospital on March 11 2014.
His death has ignited debate about safety procedures in place to protect cyclists using professional facilities.
He was a serving police officer with the Hampshire Constabulary and a highly experienced cyclist.
He represented Great Britain and the police force both nationally and internationally.
He won two gold medals for cycling at the World Police & Fire Games in Belfast in 2013.
Speaking on behalf of the family, who hail from Solihull, Richard’s Father Frederick said: “Richard was a loving son, brother and partner. The family are devastated that he died at such a young age and in such tragic circumstances doing the sport that he loved. “The family would like to thank all of the witnesses who attended to give evidence and for the support provided by family and friends throughout the Inquest.
“It has been a traumatic experience for all the family and although we have got some answers there is no real sense of closure.
“The barriers played a significant part in Richard’s death and in our view were clearly unsafe and we believe that the event should never have taken place at all.
“We are upset that British Cycling did not express their condolences at the time of Richard’s death.”
The jury determined that Richard’s injuries were sustained due to him coming into contact at speed with an ‘object’ after falling from his cycle.
After the verdict Mr David Horsley, HM senior coroner for Portsmouth and South East Hampshire, heard further evidence from Jonny Clay, the director of cycling at British Cycling, to find out what actions had been taken and what lessons had been learned following Richard’s death.
He confirmed that British Cycling had introduced new risk assessment procedures for its venues.
New fencing has been installed at the Mountbatten cycle track and at two other cycle tracks in Brighton and Carmarthen.
And new guidelines will also be published in the coming months dealing with the latest advice on fencing design.
The coroner raised concerns about the procedures in place for stopping races once an accident had occurred and will be issuing a Regulation 28 report (also known as a prevention of future deaths report).
Frederick also welcomed the steps that have been taken to improve safety on tracks following Richard’s death.
He said: “It’s telling that, since Richard’s tragic death, belated though it might be, the unsafe barriers at all three closed circuit tracks – the Mountbatten Centre and tracks in Wales and Scotland – have been replaced.
“Although it required my son’s preventable death before action was taken, hopefully that will mean other families do not have to go through what we have experienced.”
Richard was a popular and much loved individual and a new gym built at Portswood Police Station is named after him.