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Family call for mandatory speed limiters or recorders in cars after death of Girton cyclist Isla Cochrane, 14

The family of Isla Cochrane - the 14-year-old cyclist from Girton who died after being struck by a speeding driver - have called for mandatory speed limiters or recorders to be installed in all cars.

Oliver Nicholls, 22, of Corpus Christi Lane, Godmanchester, was driving his Mini Cooper along Oakington Road towards Girton at about 8.20pm on September 10 last year.when he mounted a pavement and struck Isla Cochrane.

Isla Cochrane
Isla Cochrane

He was driving at 56mph in a 40mph zone and, moments earlier, had reached speeds of 71mph.

Isla was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital but died of her injuries in the early hours of the following day.

Nicholls was jailed on Monday (December 18) for four years and 10 months after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. He was also disqualified from driving for five years and must pass an extended test before he could get a licence.

In a statement issued after the case, Isla’s family suggested it was time for mandatory speed limiters, or at least speed recorders, to be installed in all cars.

They said: “Few moments pass without Isla in our immediate thoughts. Creative, social, sporting, comedic, kind and busy, the life to which she was entitled was taken cruelly from her.

“Isla was killed when a car that was being driven at excessive speed mounted the cycle lane and collided with her bicycle. The court proceedings have highlighted how Isla, riding fully in the separated cycle lane, with lights and helmet, had done nothing wrong; she had no chance.

A ghost bike placed at the scene where Isla Cochrane was struck last year
A ghost bike placed at the scene where Isla Cochrane was struck last year

“We are grateful for the thoroughness of the police and Crown Prosecution Service and the care taken by the Crown court to apply the law appropriately and justly.

“Mr Nicholls had every opportunity to make correct decisions on that night; it was his duty to drive so as to protect others. Rather, he made the worst possible decisions and he drove so as to endanger others, resulting in Isla’s death.

“We believe, though, that Mr. Nicholls is coming to terms with the magnitude of the impact of his actions and feels guilt and pain. While we are uncomfortable that a young man is now imprisoned, we feel that the sentence will serve as a deterrent to other dangerous drivers. We hope that over time Mr. Nicholls will find ways to use his experiences to help to educate and warn others who choose to drive dangerously.

“Isla died because a driver chose to drive at dangerous speeds. This is immutable. Why, though, was this choice available to the driver? Driving at unsafe speeds is common; why is any driver given the option to drive above the speed limit? We ask, given that the technology exists, is it not time to require mandatory speed limiters in all vehicles or, at least, mandatory speed recorders?”

Isla was a student at The Perse in Cambridge and her death left the school community devastated.

A ghost bike placed at the scene where Isla Cochrane was struck last year
A ghost bike placed at the scene where Isla Cochrane was struck last year

Head Ed Elliott said following her death: “Isla was an incredibly talented, committed and kind student who made a major contribution to the school both in and outside of the classroom. Always positive, cheerful and keen to be fully involved in school life, Isla enjoyed music, playing in our hockey and netball teams and was part of our Outdoor Pursuits programme, where she enjoyed a climbing and camping trip to the Peak District.

“Within the classroom, Isla was a very thoughtful and intelligent student, who demonstrated a natural aptitude for a wide range of subjects.”

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