Drunk, speeding, hit and run van driver who killed cyclist sentenced to eight years in jail

Dying cyclist discovered by his mother in a ditch three hours after fatal collision

by Tony Farrelly   April 3, 2014  

Justice (Lonpicman, Wikimedia Commons)

A drunk van driver who killed a cyclist in hit and run incident in September 2012 while travelling at more than 20mph over the speed limit was yesterday sentenced to eight years in prison at Lincoln Crown Court.

The body of 27 year old Tim Osborn, who was wearing a hi-viz motorcycle jacket and riding a well lit bicycle on - was found in a ditch by his mother and younger brother at the side of the A151 Bourne Road a straight stretch of road in Spalding, Lincolnshire.

Mr Osborn's family had gone to look for him after becoming concerned when he didn’t return home from work. When found he had been lying at the side of the road for three hours. The lights on his bicycle were still on his father Stephen his father told road.cc.

It emerged at his trial that Mr Osborn's killer, beer pump engineer Paul Walken, had driven on after the collision stopping two miles further down the road to check for damage to his van before driving home.

Three days later after a police appeal for witnesses  Walken contacted Lincolnshire Police. The Lincolnshire Echo reports that the court was told that he initially claimed that although he had been driving in the area that night and had hit something he was “100 per cent sure” it was a deer. Tests on Walken’s van however found traces of Mr Osborn’s DNA and its anti-theft tracking device confirmed that he had been on the same stretch of the A151 at the time Mr Osborn was hit, and that he had been travelling at 70mph - 20mph over the road’s 50mph limit.

According to the prosecution Walken had drunk at least 5 and a half pints of beer that day as he checked the effectiveness of his repair work in pubs and restaurants around the East Midlands. When police visited his last job of the day, an Italian restaurant, they were told that Walken had made a mess of the repair, and that on leaving had reversed in to a parked car and driven off without stopping.

Walken pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving while unfit to drive through drink - as we reported earlier this week the maximum sentence for this offence is 14 years.

Sentencing Walken to eight years imprisonment and a 10 year driving ban Judge Stuart Rafferty told him:

“Any car has the potential to become a lethal weapon. The greater the amount of intoxication the greater the risk becomes. This is not murder but it is mechanised manslaughter.

"It does not matter precisely how much you had to drink. All that matters is that it took you far beyond the limit. You should have known that and yet you continued to drive.

"Tim Osborn was entirely without fault. He was there for anyone to see who wanted to see him. You had every opportunity to see him but you did not.

"This was not momentary lack of attention. It was high speed driving and then not stopping at the scene when you can have been in no doubt that you had hit something."

In its report of the proceedings the Lincolnshire Echo says Judge Rafferty described Tim as a popular man adding "He was well-loved by his family and friends. He was a man who it seems from all that I have read would not wish to do harm to anyone. He was 27. He had his life ahead of him."

Commenting on road.cc the day after Tim’s death, his father Stephen said: “My son travelled that road on his beloved bike since he was 10 years old! At night if he heard a vehicle coming up behind him he would ride up on the pavement then back on the road after it had gone - according to the police he didnt get that chance last night.”

Walken's sentence is exactly the same as that handed down earlier this week to hit and run driver Kingsley Gordon-Allen, 20, who hit, and killed Edward Orrey, 56, outside Leytonstone tube station on February the 9th last year while three times over the limit and driving on the wrong side of the road. Both drivers are likely to have received automatic reductions in their sentences of up to a third for entering early guilty pleas. 

As we reported on Tuesday Mr Orrey's widow Elaine condemned the sentence given to her husband's killer as "disgusting" in its leniency. That incident coupled with sentence handed out in Lincoln for another particularly callous and careless piece of driving resulting in the death of an entirely blamess person is likely to lead to renewed calls from cycling organisations, campaigners, and victims' families for a tougher approach to sentencing of such crimes and for quicker progress on the Ministry of Justice's promised sentencing review. 

 

41 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

jamesfifield wrote:
I'm fairly certain that after a ban a full re-test is required.

[[[[[ And will he be tested for his addiction to the drug alchohol?
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [304 posts]
3rd April 2014 - 22:08

21 Likes

jasecd wrote:
If I'm honest in these cases I find the custodial sentences difficult to assess - what are they really designed to achieve? Punishment, rehabilitation or as a deterrent to others? Generally the families involved understandably want a far longer incarceration but they are far from objective - this is the challenge of the judiciary.

They should achieve punishment for the crime committed.

This man drove around all day drinking beer without a thought of the consequences of getting behind the wheel of a car.

Under the influence he goes on to kill an innocent person.

Not difficult to assess the sentence here should have been a full 14 years to reflect his crime.

He has taken a life and destroyed those of the mans loved one.

14 years would give him enough time to contemplate his actions.

posted by gazzaputt [185 posts]
4th April 2014 - 5:46

15 Likes

jasecd wrote:
...while taking someones liberty through imprisonment has to be a balanced decision, the taking of their driving licence does not.

Couldn't have put it better

seven's picture

posted by seven [117 posts]
4th April 2014 - 6:40

26 Likes

Quaternions wrote:
Yet another lenient sentence by yet another British judge.

I'm almost glad I left the UK.

He was only following sentencing guidelines. It's the law that's wrong.

seven's picture

posted by seven [117 posts]
4th April 2014 - 6:42

33 Likes

What do you have to do to get the maximum 14 years then? I cannot see any way that a scenario can be worse than this one!

posted by AyBee [85 posts]
4th April 2014 - 8:20

30 Likes

He messed up his last job, crashed in the carpark, and was recorded by the theft tracking device doing 70mph in a 50 limit. But if it wasn't for this tragic crash he may well have got away with all of that other stuff.

Why does it take a death before someone recorded going 20mph over the limit gets in trouble for it?

posted by pmanc [140 posts]
4th April 2014 - 9:03

20 Likes

AyBee wrote:
What do you have to do to get the maximum 14 years then? I cannot see any way that a scenario can be worse than this one!

The problem is that people recieve a reduced sentence for pleading guilty - as an incentive not to use up the courts time (costs etc). A guilty plea can result in a reduction of about 1/3 of the sentence. So 8 years would be equivalent to about a 12 year sentence. Removing the 'incentive' would reduce the number of guilty pleas as people would chance it more with a jury. I'm not saying that its right, but it is the way it is. Personally, I think the charge wsa wrong - death by careless driving?? No, doing 40% over the speed limit (70 in a 50 zone), whilst drunk, is dangerous driving. The charge was once again wrong, and the sentence was a little less than it should have been for the charge brought IMO.

posted by md6 [157 posts]
4th April 2014 - 9:16

26 Likes

Redvee wrote:
vbvb wrote:
Are they allowed to drive after 10 years off, without practice or a re-test?
jamesfifield wrote:
I'm fairly certain that after a ban a full re-test is required.


A restest is required these days, in the past you just applied to DVLA for your licence back IIRC. When bans are imposed as well as a custodial sentence I believe the ban starts straight away, not on release from prison, so effectively only a 2 year ban. Can somebody tell me if I'm right or wrong with this?

I believe you're wrong, and the ban starts once the custodial sentence is served.

posted by jacknorell [529 posts]
4th April 2014 - 9:53

10 Likes

jacknorell wrote:
Redvee wrote:
vbvb wrote:
Are they allowed to drive after 10 years off, without practice or a re-test?
jamesfifield wrote:
I'm fairly certain that after a ban a full re-test is required.


A restest is required these days, in the past you just applied to DVLA for your licence back IIRC. When bans are imposed as well as a custodial sentence I believe the ban starts straight away, not on release from prison, so effectively only a 2 year ban. Can somebody tell me if I'm right or wrong with this?

I believe you're wrong, and the ban starts once the custodial sentence is served.

You're correct, the law was changed to make them run consecutively 5 years ago (Apologies the only reference I could find readily is in the Fail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1228881/Mother-wins-law-change-d...)

posted by Cantab [61 posts]
4th April 2014 - 10:22

15 Likes

Paul_C wrote:
so this lowlife used his job as a means to get free beer and drive at the same time??? That 10 year drinving ban, it had better not start until he gets out... I hate it when most of their ban is while they're doing time... defeats the object.

If it were true that the beer inspector is expected to drink beer at every stop then this would be a case for corporate manslaughter, surely? (or should that be 'shoorly'?).

posted by brooksby [204 posts]
4th April 2014 - 10:41

18 Likes

Extra vote for a lifetime driving ban in these circumstances, by the way Applause

posted by brooksby [204 posts]
4th April 2014 - 10:42

31 Likes

If my child was killed in that way and such a lenient sentence given.....well...I really dont know if I would be able to control myself...

posted by NeilXDavis [113 posts]
4th April 2014 - 11:40

14 Likes

NeilXDavis wrote:
If my child was killed in that way and such a lenient sentence given.....well...I really dont know if I would be able to control myself...

I'd like to think you would try. Revenge, although appealling on one level, is not justice. Even when justice is served it doesn't put the problem to bed.

It would be better for the individual and for future generations if the energy was put into supporting RoadPeace or a campaign like 'See Me Save Me' set up by bereaved relatives.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2036 posts]
4th April 2014 - 12:33

20 Likes

brooksby wrote:
Paul_C wrote:
so this lowlife used his job as a means to get free beer and drive at the same time??? That 10 year drinving ban, it had better not start until he gets out... I hate it when most of their ban is while they're doing time... defeats the object.

If it were true that the beer inspector is expected to drink beer at every stop then this would be a case for corporate manslaughter, surely? (or should that be 'shoorly'?).

I'm pretty d*mn certain he's not supposed to drink on the job...

posted by jacknorell [529 posts]
4th April 2014 - 13:01

22 Likes

Do you know what... eight years is not that bad... It will destroy that persons life. I think it also sends out a pretty clear message that this behaviour is not tolerated or supported by english courts.

Not sure why it was careless and not dangerous driving as commented already.

I think that is part of why the family will feel so hard done by, and that the sentence was 8 and not 14 years.

If someone said the max is 8 years unless the guy pleads 'not guilty' then it could be 14 years, then it immediately feels less like a lenient sentence.

Anyway, I digress.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [332 posts]
4th April 2014 - 15:04

15 Likes

Did he really not see the cyclist...or did he think it might be “fun” to see what happened perish the thought? You have to be extremely drunk to be on completely the wrong side of the road and hit something coming the other way that is near the kerb.

posted by Pub bike [43 posts]
4th April 2014 - 15:59

19 Likes

Regardless of what one considers to be the 'correct' length of sentence for any given offence, I don't like the way sentence reductions work.

Firstly the halved-sentence for good behaviour is the wrong way round and hence misleading. The actual sentence should be stated and then potentially increased for _bad_ behaviour. As it is it invites contempt for the system as the general public are mislead about what sentences actually are. If the N-year sentence is really N/2 years unless they misbehave then while that base figure is a separate debate, at least describe it correctly to begin with.

Secondly I know it might be futile to complain about it, because its dictated by economic factors, but I dislike the 'reduction for guilty plea' rule. Its essentially plea-bargaining (which the US system seems to run on) though via sentence length rather than charge.

It seems daft that someone (possibly a professional crook or habitual offender) who has been caught 'bang-to-rights' and knows full well they are going to be convicted can get such a reduction by simply accepting the inevitable (even at the very last moment before the trial, apparently).

And it seems unfair that those who are innocent of what they are charged with who are likely to feel obliged to either gamble with a full trial or be panicked into accepting a conviction for something they didn't do.

The whole practice seems to be about saving money rather than seeing justice is done.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [735 posts]
4th April 2014 - 16:47

19 Likes

Cantab wrote:
jacknorell wrote:
Redvee wrote:
vbvb wrote:
Are they allowed to drive after 10 years off, without practice or a re-test?
jamesfifield wrote:
I'm fairly certain that after a ban a full re-test is required.


A restest is required these days, in the past you just applied to DVLA for your licence back IIRC. When bans are imposed as well as a custodial sentence I believe the ban starts straight away, not on release from prison, so effectively only a 2 year ban. Can somebody tell me if I'm right or wrong with this?

I believe you're wrong, and the ban starts once the custodial sentence is served.

You're correct, the law was changed to make them run consecutively 5 years ago (Apologies the only reference I could find readily is in the Fail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1228881/Mother-wins-law-change-d...)

It is, all the same, amazing to me that nobody noticed the situation was absurd till as recently as 5 years ago.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [735 posts]
4th April 2014 - 16:49

17 Likes

It's not something I've really thought of before, but this case made me think about it. I think it would be a good idea if those who are required to drive to carry out their job were randomly drink/drug tested. I'm subjected to random testing for my employment and I operate nothing more dangerous than a computer. If I test positive, I lose my job; zero tolerance. Unless you are a total fool, that kind of prospect certainly makes you consider your actions.
It may help to make things safer, but it is probably against European Human Rights law...

posted by pwake [312 posts]
4th April 2014 - 17:08

22 Likes

8 years for manslaughter seems fair to me. no sentence will bring the victim back.

posted by philtregear [80 posts]
4th April 2014 - 18:35

10 Likes

There was an artice on the news yesterday where a bloke was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment for shaking a baby to death so 8 years for this case seems appropriate, although i would like to see higher prison sentences.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2826 posts]
5th April 2014 - 11:21

3 Likes

philtregear wrote:
8 years for manslaughter seems fair to me. no sentence will bring the victim back.

[[[[[[ Take one third off the 8 (for his "guilty" plea) and more time off for "good behaviour"....and what are you left with? Not a whole lot, surely, and not much of a deterrent to other habitual alchoholic drivers. Lifetime driving ban please.
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [304 posts]
5th April 2014 - 12:23

11 Likes

its all well and good asking for lifetime bans but its nigh on impossible to police.

There are people being banned every day at courts up and down the country and they could drive past a Police car all the time doing nothing wrong and would not get stopped because
1: most Police cars are not fitted with anpr so a vehicle cannot get flagged up as a possible dizzy driver.

2: they change their car or drive another one, again it would not get flagged up on anpr and unless the driver is known personally to the officer we cannot stop every single car and check every single driver.

It would stop some who are basically law abiding but got disqualified because of their own stupid fault but not the ones who will continue to drive regardless of the length of ban.

If a lifetime ban is to be introduced then some sort of system which connects insurers / dvla / police / car finance co needs to be in place so it would get flagged up at every possible opportunity and not left to the off chance that they get seen or grassed up by a neighbour.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2826 posts]
5th April 2014 - 13:54

6 Likes

stumps wrote:
its all well and good asking for lifetime bans but its nigh on impossible to police.

So what? Short term bans are just as impossible to police. With that reasoning, why have bans at all?

The ban is there so that we can throw the book at the scum if they're caught again... And just maybe it'll teach a few less sub-human morons to behave better, though I grant that's a (naive but hopeful) stretch.

posted by jacknorell [529 posts]
5th April 2014 - 15:29

7 Likes

Giving a lifetime ban is not difficult to implement, it is however difficult to currently enforce. If driving while banned or without a licence was an immediate min of 1 year detention this would go some way to help. If the government truly wants to make the roads safer for all and there is a political will to take these murdering motorists off the road it can be done.

posted by Mart [109 posts]
5th April 2014 - 15:51

7 Likes

A serving driving examiner tells me that compulsory re-tests are at the discretion of the judge/magistrate and are not that common. She reckons to do about one a month, maybe less.

Mike

mike the bike's picture

posted by mike the bike [160 posts]
5th April 2014 - 16:59

12 Likes

jacknorell wrote:
stumps wrote:
its all well and good asking for lifetime bans but its nigh on impossible to police.

So what? Short term bans are just as impossible to police. With that reasoning, why have bans at all?

The ban is there so that we can throw the book at the scum if they're caught again...


[[[[[ Exactly so, and any driver on lifetime ban (and I don't suppose there'd be too many of them) actually caught driving AGAIN might perhaps get the full 14-year sentence many of them deserved in the first place. You can say I'm a dreamer...but I'm not the only one.
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [304 posts]
6th April 2014 - 2:47

7 Likes

AyBee wrote:
What do you have to do to get the maximum 14 years then?

IANAL but I would say:

1) All possible aggravating factors need to be present
2) All aggravating factors need to be at the extreme end of the scale (e.g. multiple deaths, leaving the scene, attempt to destroy evidence etc.)
3) The accused must have forced a trial by pleading not guilty

seven's picture

posted by seven [117 posts]
6th April 2014 - 8:39

8 Likes

How much would it cost for those serving a Driving Ban to have to wear an anklet that was detectable by a Police Vehicle within a range of 10M ?

YES , invasion of Personal liberty , but then there is a Conviction in Place and UNTIL the Judiciary start to handout Justifiable Sentences for Events that cause Serious Injury or Loss of Life then Policing Authorities need MORE HELP !

Take a look at Hugh Porter's latest blog :

http://thecyclingsilk.blogspot.co.at/2014/04/recent-cases.html

which demonstrates that the " LAW is an ASS "! Too many cases of Cyclists WRONGFULLY KILLED yet " smartass lawyers & retired Police Officers serving as " expert witnesses " , make the Prosecution look like pitiful chumps swimming in knee deep water !

Will it take a DRUNKEN Motorist putting BoZo or Cameron in a wooden overcoat , to get Parliament to introduce " Strict Liability "?

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [391 posts]
6th April 2014 - 10:50

7 Likes

skippy wrote:
How much would it cost for those serving a Driving Ban to have to wear an anklet that was detectable by a Police Vehicle within a range of 10M ?

Understand your point skippy but just because they're in a car or appear to be travelling in a car doesn't mean they're driving.

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [628 posts]
6th April 2014 - 14:39

7 Likes