Drunk driver who killed cyclist sentenced to 7 years in jail

Alison Bowen continued to drive for 5 miles in badly damaged car after killing Paul Novak

by Simon_MacMichael   July 11, 2014  

Alison Bowen

A drunk driver who killed a Sussex cyclist and continued to drive for five miles in her damaged car has been jailed for seven years.

Alison Bowen, aged 61, told police that she believed her Fiat Punto, the front end of which was badly damaged, had struck a badger.

After the collision that killed Paul Novak on the A21 at Robertsbridge in November last year, she carried on driving and then crashed on Marley Lane in Battle.

She pleaded guilty at Lewes Crown Court to causing death by driving without due care and attention while over the prescribed limit, and was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.

Bowen was also banned from driving for two years, and will have to take an extended retest before she can get her driving licence back.

The victim’s mother, Ann Novak, said: "My only son Paul had his life snuffed out in seconds through no fault of his own.

"No sentence will ever be enough to take away the pain I feel that I will not get the chance to spend the rest of my life with him.

"I still cannot come to terms with the fact that Paul is no longer with us. I have been given great support by my family, friends and the police but nothing can prepare you for the death of your child and nothing takes away the sorrow.

"Paul was more relaxed and happy than he had been for years when he was taken from us. I feel robbed that I won't get to enjoy this phase of his life with him - all because of the selfish actions of Alison Bowen.

She added: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those that stopped at the scene of the crash and tried to help Paul. Thank you to the medical staff that did everything they could to try and save his life.”

According to police collision investigators, Bowen was driving partly on the grass verge of the A21 when she struck Mr Novak from behind at around 4.30pm on of 18 November 2013.

Her knuckles were cut by the shattered windscreen of her car rubbing against her hand as she drove on after the fatal collision, though she told police that she had heard “a bonk” and believed she had struck a badger.

A breathalyser test found that she was more than twice over the drink-drive limit, with 85 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres.

Sergeant Dan Pitcher of Sussex Police said: "Paul Novak was the innocent victim of a woman who selfishly decided to drink and then drive home.

"He had no chance to avoid Bowen or to do anything that could have saved him from her.

"Bowen was so drunk when she struck Mr Novak that she did not even know what she had done.

"After the collision she must have been able to see next to nothing out of her windscreen as the front of her car was smashed to pieces but she continued on the roads and could have easily caused more serious or even fatal accidents.

"This horrific case shows exactly why we cannot and will not tolerate any drink or drug driving in Sussex.

"There is no such thing as an acceptable amount that you can drink before driving. One drink is one drink too many, as the family of Mr Novak will testify to."

28 user comments

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Two year ban, surely life ban - she no longer deserves to have the opportunity to drive. Same old story, if you want to kill and get a reduced sentence, jump in a car. Shameful.

posted by Cyclic [27 posts]
11th July 2014 - 21:49

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I really don't know what to say about a driver who can show that little care.

RIP.

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posted by mrmo [1033 posts]
11th July 2014 - 21:51

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Hopefully she will have to share with a mentally deranged crack addict Angry

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posted by Cyclist [137 posts]
11th July 2014 - 22:01

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Holy Cow! An appropriate sentence for killing a cyclist with a car. Chapeau!

posted by drfabulous0 [274 posts]
11th July 2014 - 22:02

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Should be a lifetime driving ban!!!

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posted by Das [29 posts]
11th July 2014 - 22:02

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She was drunk and driving on the grass verge yet was only charged with 'causing death by driving without due care and attention'. What does someone have to do to be guilty of 'causing death by dangerous driving'?

posted by MikeF [8 posts]
11th July 2014 - 22:25

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drfabulous0 wrote:
Holy Cow! An appropriate sentence for killing a cyclist with a car. Chapeau!

Sorry - I disagree

How the HELL can sentencing guidelines allow a longer prison term than the driving ban?

How screwed up does the system have to be that it's more acceptable to deprive someone of their liberty for an offence than to shoehorn them out of their tin tank?

posted by mad_scot_rider [538 posts]
11th July 2014 - 22:41

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Slightly off topic, but when I loaded this story, I got an auto-playing video of a review of the latest Porsche 911GT3 and how damned fast it is. Now, I appreciate that the site has to support itself but there is such a thing as tact.

Saying that, the sentence does actually seem to be meaningful for a change. Sure she'll only serve half of it but seeing a custodial sentence imposed for killing a vulnerable road user is, sadly, a rarity these days.

posted by SteppenHerring [169 posts]
11th July 2014 - 22:42

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Quote:
told police that she believed her Fiat Punto, the front end of which was badly damaged, had struck a badger

Beyond satire, and believe me, I tried. Well, at least she pleaded guilty.
Kent & Sussex Courier (1) wrote:
Bowen, of Queen Elizabeth Close, Battle was drink-driving at the time and left Mr Novak's body in the road before continuing to smash her car until she got to Marley Lane in Battle and crashed off the road again.

I can't even.

She Cat D'd her vehicle by rear-ending a cyclist travelling in the same direction, thus in theory reducing the relative speed between the car and cyclist? So what speed was she going at to cause that degree of damage? And then... she kept going.

How was this not dangerous (as opposed to careless) driving, and how did this not attract a life ban? I'm not thinking out of a sense of petty retribution here, more general deterrance, and simple prevention, never letting this person have the opportunity to do this again. Here, Random Serial Killer, killing thirty two people with automatic weaponry was heinously evil, you're banned from owning firearms for two years and have to take an extended firearms test before we let you have a gun again. Sounds pretty stupid? Welcome to justice Britstyle, we're doing it right yeah.

Hugs and condolences to Paul's family & friends.

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posted by Argos74 [268 posts]
11th July 2014 - 22:43

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You might have some good reasons to post stuff like this Road.cc guys, but lately you've been going overboard to the point where it's not doing anything good for anyone.

Bad stuff is happening all the time, does not mean you have to focus on it all the time.

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posted by koko56 [313 posts]
11th July 2014 - 22:45

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Thankfully, she's 61 now, so hopefully when she gets out, she will use her pensioner's bus pass & never drive again.

Not sure how she was only found guilty of driving without due care and attention while over the prescribed limit. Does that mean it was ok to drive 5 miles with a shattered windscreen after not stopping at the first accident?

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posted by I love my bike [40 posts]
11th July 2014 - 22:49

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I love my bike wrote:
Thankfully, she's 61 now, so hopefully when she gets out, she will use her pensioner's bus pass & never drive again.

She lives in Sussex. In the countryside. What use is a bus pass?

We have let the country get to the point where, in many areas, a car is a necessity. It's sad but it's true. In an ideal world a government would look at making it possible to live without a car but we don't live in an ideal world.

posted by SteppenHerring [169 posts]
11th July 2014 - 23:03

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That's a bit hard on the crack addict!

posted by Fifth Gear [6 posts]
11th July 2014 - 23:18

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Ridiculous! By the time she has served half of that sentance she will be allowed to retest for her licence. If anything the ban should start from the time you get out of prison. IMO she should of gotten a life ban.
Also what about charges for not stopping at the scene of accident. Driving with impaired visibility due to shattered windscreen. CPS are the biggest jokers alive. Don't know their heads from their ar$es.

posted by toothache90 [25 posts]
11th July 2014 - 23:51

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toothache90 wrote:
Ridiculous! By the time she has served half of that sentance she will be allowed to retest for her licence. If anything the ban should start from the time you get out of prison. IMO she should of gotten a life ban.

According to this story http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1228881/Mother-wins-law-change-d... the ban does start after the serving of the sentence.

Agree on the life ban, but as someone who spent 3 days in a coma because of drink driver wiping me out from behind, there's very little I'd consider as a harsh punishment for them.

posted by richred_uk [71 posts]
12th July 2014 - 0:09

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@I love my bike -- "She lives in Sussex. In the countryside. What use is a bus pass? We have let the country get to the point where, in many areas, a car is a necessity. It's sad but it's true. In an ideal world a government would look at making it possible to live without a car but we don't live in an ideal world."

How does a quadriplegic victim of drunk driving manage without a car?

Charlie Horse

posted by ch [100 posts]
12th July 2014 - 5:52

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Are driving bans covered by sentencing guidelines, in the same way as prison sentences, fines etc? Did the judge in this case have the option of imposing a lifetime driving ban, and chose to only ban for two years, or do the guidelines mean that option was not available to him?

posted by graham_f [92 posts]
12th July 2014 - 9:12

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SteppenHerring wrote:
I love my bike wrote:
Thankfully, she's 61 now, so hopefully when she gets out, she will use her pensioner's bus pass & never drive again.

She lives in Sussex. In the countryside. What use is a bus pass?

We have let the country get to the point where, in many areas, a car is a necessity. It's sad but it's true. In an ideal world a government would look at making it possible to live without a car but we don't live in an ideal world.

Well she could get a bike, perhaps?

Or just live somewhere else. Not everyone can enjoy the benefits of the rural lifestyle.

Its true that driving has become almost compulsory for many, but the reason why it has become so is in part due to millions of individual decisions to drive when its _not_ really necessary.

Driving should be a last resort when there really is no alternative, not the norm. If people treated it as such it would in turn become a lot easier to get by without a car.

(Condolences to the victim's family)

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [643 posts]
12th July 2014 - 10:23

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MikeF wrote:
She was drunk and driving on the grass verge yet was only charged with 'causing death by driving without due care and attention'. What does someone have to do to be guilty of 'causing death by dangerous driving'?

Why not call it what it was: Murder. She knowingly drove intoxicated, that is premeditation in my view.

posted by paulrbarnard [98 posts]
12th July 2014 - 11:27

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Life ban. You take a life you lose your licence. Full stop.

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1031 posts]
12th July 2014 - 20:35

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richred_uk wrote:
toothache90 wrote:
Ridiculous! By the time she has served half of that sentance she will be allowed to retest for her licence. If anything the ban should start from the time you get out of prison. IMO she should of gotten a life ban.

According to this story http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1228881/Mother-wins-law-change-d... the ban does start after the serving of the sentence.

Agree on the life ban, but as someone who spent 3 days in a coma because of drink driver wiping me out from behind, there's very little I'd consider as a harsh punishment for them.

How about hanging?

Airzound

posted by Airzound [223 posts]
12th July 2014 - 23:02

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Only 7 years jail and a 2 year driving ban for killing some whilst driving pissed out of your brains and not stopping! Claiming she hit a badger but causing that amount of damage to her car - what bollocks! The bitch should hang for killing Mr Novak. She doesn't deserve to breath or see the light of day.

And how come the stupid idiots at the CPS charged her with causing death by careless driving!! It should have been causing death by dangerous driving or manslaughter as she was so reckless to drive whilst pissed our of her brains. Her standard of driving was atrocious, erratically driving on the grass verge FFS! The CPS have reached a new low - cretins.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [223 posts]
12th July 2014 - 23:08

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Exactly, though Battle isn't in the highlands of Scotland:

It has a station with trains going to London & Hastings, and also an hourly bus service as well.

In short, like many, including those not living in cities, she won't actually need car.

Tragically the Novak family had to suffer first.

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posted by I love my bike [40 posts]
13th July 2014 - 0:13

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"After the collision she must have been able to see next to nothing out of her windscreen as the front of her car was smashed to pieces but she continued on the roads and could have easily caused more serious or even fatal accidents".

- Hopefully just an unfortunate choice of words, after all how much more serious or fatal can you get?

yacstar

posted by yacstar [19 posts]
13th July 2014 - 11:15

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7 years seems like an appropriote jail term to me. Long enough for the lesson to be learned and provide sufficient deterrent to others. I can't see any real benefit to the public of a significantly longer jail term.

A two year driving ban however is woefully inadequate. This women should never drive on our roads again. Hopefully she will have the good concience to make this decision for herself.

posted by Matt eaton [315 posts]
14th July 2014 - 14:09

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yacstar wrote:
"
- Hopefully just an unfortunate choice of words, after all how much more serious or fatal can you get?

I think they probably mean further accidents - rather than accidents of greater seriousness or fatality?

posted by DeepSea [2 posts]
14th July 2014 - 15:06

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Quote:
SteppenHerring: Well she could get a bike, perhaps?

Wouldn't that be something to mark down in one's diary for approx 4 years hence?
With any luck, due to being a convicted killer and a drunk driver, maybe no motor insurance company would touch her, thereby forcing her onto two wheels.
If only I lived around the Battle area, if only . . .

K Stand Ken

posted by K Stand Ken [41 posts]
14th July 2014 - 15:32

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SteppenHerring wrote:
Slightly off topic, but when I loaded this story, I got an auto-playing video of a review of the latest Porsche 911GT3 and how damned fast it is. Now, I appreciate that the site has to support itself but there is such a thing as tact.
[insert some text here about adwords not giving the option to select what ads are presented]

posted by truffy [84 posts]
19th July 2014 - 14:51

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