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Cement lorry driver to stand trial over death of cyclist in Battersea crash

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 18/06/2021 Tristan Kirk
a woman smiling for the camera: Giovannacappiello0807a.jpg © Provided by Evening Standard Giovannacappiello0807a.jpg

A construction company boss has pleaded not guilty to killing an award-winning interior design student in a crash in Battersea two years ago.

Stephen Hempenstall, 49, is accused of causing the death by careless driving of 29-year-old Giovanna Cappiello while behind the wheel of a cement lorry.

Ms Cappiello, a student at the University of the Arts in London, was cycling through Battersea and was two weeks away from graduating when she died on July 4, 2019.

She had been the first on her course to achieve A+ grades in both theory and practice, and was also a popular staff member at the five-star Berkeley Hotel in Belgravia.

Hempenstall, a director of a construction firm based in Ickenham, appeared at the Old Bailey this morning to enter a not guilty plea to the charge.

No trial date was set and Judge Nigel Lickley QC adjourned the case for a month to decide when and where the case could be dealt with.

Hempenstall is accused of driving the cement lorry “without due care and attention” before crashing into Ms Cappiello in Wandsworth Road, at the junction with Silverthorne Road.

Ms Cappiello was given emergency treatment at the scene but died from her injuries.

Paying tribute after her death, UAL’s pro-vice chancellor Professor David Crow said: “She was a highly accomplished student, whose excellent achievements were recognised with the Chartered Society of Designers student award 2019, presented to her at the end of year degree show in June.

“Gio will be fondly remembered by everyone who knew her at Chelsea College of Arts as someone who was always kind, committed, dedicated and humble.

"She had told her course leader how much she was looking forward to her chosen pathway — she said she wanted to make a difference.

“Her loss at the very start of her journey is a huge shock for her friends, her peers, her tutors and everyone in the college. She will be greatly missed.”

Hempenstall was freed on unconditional bail until the next court hearing.

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