The mother of a ballet star killed in a motorbike crash said today that she feels sorry for the minicab driver who hit him as he has to live with the memory.
Jonathan Ollivier, 38, was knocked off his bike in Clerkenwell hours before he was due to give his final performance in Sir Matthew Bourne’s production The Car Man at Sadler’s Wells Theatre. The father of two died almost instantly after suffering fatal head injuries.
Mercedes driver Abdul Qayyum, 45, was cleared at the Old Bailey last week of causing death by careless driving.
In emotional scenes in court, he addressed Mr Ollivier’s family in tears, telling them: “It was a pure accident.”
Speaking from her home in Northampton after the verdict, Mr Ollivier’s mother Paula said she was glad Mr Qayyum had not been jailed. She told the Standard: “I feel very sorry for the man who did it, I really do. He’s got to live with it, and it was pretty grim.
“He seemed like a nice man, he was absolutely distraught. It’s not something you go out and do if you’re a nice, normal person. He’s obviously a hard-working man, he’s got four kids.”
The court heard how Mr Qayyum, of Slough, was driving a passenger from Hackney to Heathrow on August 9, 2015, when he collided with Mr Ollivier’s motorcycle in Farringdon Road after pulling out of a side street. Mr Ollivier was travelling at about 50mph on the 30mph road, the jury were told. Mrs Ollivier said: “I didn’t want him to have a custodial sentence, I didn’t wish that on him — but I wasn’t in agreement with the verdict. But that’s what the jurors thought. John wasn’t a vindictive person. I’m sure he’d feel the same.”
Born in Northampton in 1977, Mr Ollivier began his career at the Cape Town City Ballet in South Africa before spending eight years with the Northern Ballet Theatre between 1999 and 2007. He worked frequently with Sir Matthew, who described the dancer as an “inspiration and role model to several generations of young dancers who strove to emulate his enviable technique and majestic stage presence”. A memorial dance evening at Sadler’s Wells, presented by Sir Matthew, was held last year to celebrate his life and raise money for his sons, Lucas and Isaac.
Mrs Ollivier revealed that her son’s ashes had been divided up and sent to some of his favourite locations around the world, including the home of his ex-wife, ballerina Desiré Samaai, in South Africa. The family are deciding where to spread the ashes in the UK.
The court heard from senior toxicologist Dr Rebecca Andrews of Imperial College London, who said Mr Ollivier’s body had traces of a by-product produced when the system breaks down cocaine. Although no cocaine was found in his body, the presence of the by-product meant Mr Ollivier had recently taken the drug, although not in the last three hours, and was in a comedown stage.