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.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.