Man, 60, admits causing death of two cyclists from Haddenham by careless driving

Families tell of 'devastation' after pair were struck by car while on training session

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 5:16 pm
Updated Friday, 15th October 2021, 3:17 pm

Clifford Rennie, 60, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by careless driving at Wycombe Magistrates Court yesterday (October 14).

Damien Natale, 52, and Andy Coles, 56, both from Haddenham, were cycling when they were struck by Rennie’s Volkswagen Golf on the A40 Wycombe Road in Studley Green on June 1, 2020.

The two friends were training when Rennie ploughed into them on the 60mph stretch of straight road.

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Damien Natale and Andy Coles with Tracey Natale and Helen Atherton

Paramedics rushed to attend to the scene, but both cyclists were pronounced dead.

Rennie, of Wantage Road in Wallingford, admitted two counts of causing death by careless driving.

Sentencing will be at a later date.

Speaking after the hearing, Damien’s wife, Tracey Natale, said: “Damien meant the world to us and no words come close to expressing the devastation this tragedy has brought to our family and friends. His passion for sport knew no bounds and he was the man you could always rely on - he touched the hearts of everyone he met.

“Learning to live without Damien has been an impossible challenge and I’m certain had Mr Rennie been driving with greater awareness that day, the outcome would be completely different.

“While today’s guilty plea means we can finally start to move on with our lives and avoid the ordeal of a trial, the charge of careless driving has been something both our families have struggled with.”

Damien and Andy co-founded cycling events company Allezsportives and organised a number of corporate and charity bike ride events.

Helen Atherton, partner of Andy Coles, said: “Damien and Andy were great friends and raised hundreds of thousands of pounds through cycling and event organisation with Allezsportives. They tirelessly organised multiple charity rides including Ride4Life, Scannappeal, Circuito Del Caffe together with countless corporate events supporting Cancer Research, Mind and Macmillan.

“Losing Andy is devastating and I, his family and friends will never recover from this. He was loved and respected by all who met him – the impact of his loss is immeasurable. The actions of one man mean we can no longer spend the rest of our lives together.

“Mr Rennie has pleaded guilty, so we do avoid the further challenge and stress of a trial. Yet we are still left with the unanswered question of what he was doing in his car other than looking at the road and not driving around two amazing men, as others did that evening.”

Representing the families of Damien and Andy at the hearing was Matthew Claxson, partner at law firm Moore Barlow.

Matthew added: “Carelessness on the roads can have tragic consequences. For Damien and Andy’s families they will forever have to live with the impact of losing a loved one. The verdict of today’s plea hearing means both families can start to rebuild their lives after the trauma they’ve faced over the last 12 months.

“Both families have found it hard to come to terms with the distinct difference between the charge of careless driving over dangerous driving. Both instances can result in a fatality, yet the severity of the punishment remains significantly dissimilar.

"This case acts as a timely reminder that the sentencing for death by careless driving should be revisited.”