Cyclist killed by drink-driver

PUBLISHED: 12:51 07 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:48 06 May 2010

A DRIVER who ran into and killed a 63-year-old cyclist, was over the limit the morning after a drinking session. The fatal crash occurred on the morning of September 24 last year, and 30-year-old Benjamin Taylor admitted to police he had drunk about eight

A DRIVER who ran into and killed a 63-year-old cyclist, was over the limit the morning after a drinking session.

The fatal crash occurred on the morning of September 24 last year, and 30-year-old Benjamin Taylor admitted to police he had drunk about eight pints of Stella lager the night before.

Taylor, of West Street, Lilley, pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court to causing the death of Malcolm Roberts by careless driving when over the alcohol limit.

He was jailed for 18 months and banned from driving for three years on Friday.

Charles Ingham, prosecuting, said the victim was a very fit retired man, who regularly cycled 15 miles. He was wearing a helmet and a high visibility jacket as he cycled along the A505 towards Luton where he lived with his wife. He had three children and was a grandfather.

Taylor was driving his 4x4 Daihatsu to Luton to get some money from a cash machine when he struck Mr Roberts from behind. Mr Roberts was killed instantly, said Mr Ingham.

A roadside breath test was positive but a blood sample Taylor gave three and a half hours later was under the legal alcohol limit. An expert made a back calculation which would have given a reading at the time of the crash of between 110 and 136 milligrams when the legal limit is 80.

"That calculation is not consistent with the account of having eight pints of lager the night before. He must have either drunk more or had some alcohol prior to the accident," said the prosecutor.

He said his speed was calculated at between 40-50 mph and there were no indications that he had reacted at all before impact. The stretch of road was relatively straight and he would have had five and a half seconds reaction time.

In interview he said he never saw the cyclist at all. He heard a bang and his windscreen shattered and he realised he had hit something.

Jonathan Green, defending said: "This is a tragedy for everyone. He will never be free from the consequences of that morning. He considered that he was safe to drive but he was wrong.

"He has not driven since and does not even feel comfortable in a car."

Judge Terence Maher said: "Mr Roberts was a keen and experienced cyclist and was in excellent health. His family have been blown apart by his death out of the blue. A statement I have read from his widow is very moving.

He told Taylor: "Your drinking session the night before had lingered in your body. Everyone knows that there is a risk you may be over the limit the following morning and you drive at your peril.

"A prison sentence is going to be an exceptionally heavy blow for someone like you.

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