Eight month jail sentence for motorist who hid in bushes as cyclist lay dying

Court hears how mother of five was still alive when passing nurse stopped 15 minutes after incident last December

by Simon_MacMichael   September 5, 2012  

Gavel

A motorist in North Wales who hid in bushes while a cyclist his vehicle had struck lay dying has been jailed for eight months.

Susan Griffiths, aged 47, was riding her bike to work early one morning in Dwygyfylchi, near Conwy, last December when she was hit by a Ford Mondeo driven by 29-year-old Michael Lundstram of Llandudno.

Lundstram, who had previously been banned from driving in 2009 and who was uninsured, failed to stop and raise the alarm, instead hiding in some bushes, reports the Daily Post.

Mrs Griffiths, who suffered serious head and facial injuries in the incident, was spotted by a nurse driving past the scene of the incident 15 minutes later who summoned an ambulance, but the mother of five died later in Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor.

The court heard that Lundstram had been up all night playing snooker and poker prior to the fatal collision and that his vehicle had two bald tyres.

“At 5.30am on December 9 he collided with a pedal cycle,” said prosecution barrister Ian Evans.

“Susan Griffiths was thrown from the bike and landed in the carriageway.

“The defendant didn’t stop to see if she was OK, or call the emergency services. Instead he fled the scene and went up to the mountain where he hid in some bushes.”

He added that Mrs Griffiths was still alive when she was spotted by the passing nurse.

Peter Moss, defending Lundstram, said that his client, who pleaded guilty to causing death while driving without insurance ad failure to stop, was “remorseful” and “contrite” and that the incident “will haunt him for the rest of his life.”

He added that Lundstram had fled the scene due to “panic at the gravity of the situation” and did not know that he was uninsured since he assumed his wife had made the necessary arrangements.

Describing Lundstram, a father-of-two, as “well respected,” he urged the judge to give him a community sentence and curfew order, saying that his client was “terrified at the prospect of an immediate custodial sentence.”

Judge Niclas Parry ignored that plea, however, imposing an eight-month prison sentence on Lundstram and banning him from driving for two and a half years.

He described Lundstram’s attitude towards his lack of insurance as “cavalier,” but said that ““paled into insignificance” in the light of what he did following the collision.

In a statement issued following sentencing, Mrs Griffiths’ husband Arwyn said that Lundtsram’s behaviour had been “truly selfish” but acknowledged that the judge was unable to impose a stronger sentence.

“I cannot believe how any human being could knowingly hit a cyclist and leave them without even calling an ambulance,” he said. “That is a truly selfish act.

“I am disappointed with the sentence this morning but fully understand that the Judge is limited with sentencing guidelines.

“As a family we knew before attending court that no sentence would be enough to reflect the true loss and suffering we as a family have experienced and will continue to do so following the untimely death of a loving wife, mother, grandmother and daughter.

“The crime committed causing the death of my wife has naturally affected me and my family significantly – financially, physically but most of all emotionally. We have been absolutely devastated with our loss and will feel the pain forever.

“I still cannot believe that myself, her sons, daughter, granddaughters and grandson won’t see her again. At least Michael’s family will see him again when they visit him in prison and when he is a free man in a few months’ time.

He added: “I would like to thank the police for their professional investigation and particularly the support given to me and my family by the family liaison officer.”

26 user comments

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What a complete and utter b*st*rd. Should have been put away for several years. The law and guidelines are clearly inadequate for cases like this.

A new definition for "well respected" - banned from driving, but still does with no insurance, hits and kills someone after staying up all night drinking and gambling - did his lawyer manage to say that AND keep a straight face?

posted by gazza_d [255 posts]
5th September 2012 - 8:50

7 Likes

No longer 'well respected' if the people of Llandudno have any decency.

A full 5 year sentence and 10 year ban should be the standard. It's the only way to get the attention of people like this. The worse thing is he'll be out in 4 months.

My sympathies to Mr Griffiths and his family. Nothing can replace their loss - but stiffer sentencing would at least make the perpetraitors acknowledge the crime.

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

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1074 posts]
5th September 2012 - 9:03

9 Likes

gazza_d wrote:
What a complete and utter b*st*rd. Should have been put away for several years. The law and guidelines are clearly inadequate for cases like this.

A new definition for "well respected" - banned from driving, but still does with no insurance, hits and kills someone after staying up all night drinking and gambling - did his lawyer manage to say that AND keep a straight face?

No mention in the court report as to whether the woman would have survived if she had received treatment sooner.

No suggestion that he had been drinking, though in context hardly mitigates his behaviour. Bet his family's proud

posted by philallan [14 posts]
5th September 2012 - 9:12

7 Likes

"The court heard that Griffiths had been up all night playing snooker and poker prior to the fatal collision and that his vehicle had two bald tyres."

4th paragraph - should that say "...Lundstram had been up all night..."?

posted by toab [32 posts]
5th September 2012 - 9:18

9 Likes

Unbelievably light sentence for killing someone. Not sure why the judge was unable to impose longer jail time. The sentence for 'causing death by driving unlicensed' has a starting point of 12 months, with a max of 2 years and a min of 36 weeks. It seems like the judge has imposed a sentence less that the minimum? I don't get it, what the f*** is wrong with our justice system?


Nature of offence: The offender was disqualified from driving OR The offender was unlicensed or uninsured plus 2 or more aggravating factors from the list below

Starting Point: 12 months custody
Sentencing range: 36 weeks - 2 years custody

* Previous convictions for motoring offences, whether involving bad driving or involving an offence of the same kind that forms part of the present conviction (i.e. unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured driving)
* More than one person was killed as a result of the offence
* Serious injury to one or more persons in addition to the death(s)
* Irresponsible behaviour such as failing to stop or falsely claiming that someone else was driving

Ref: http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/sentencing_manual/causing_death_by_dr...

posted by qwerky [142 posts]
5th September 2012 - 9:23

6 Likes

True. I re-read it and agree that I jumped to that conclusion - He was up all night playing poker though - I suspect he wasn't drinking just tea. Slightly irrelevant compared to the list of offences etc he did commit though.

posted by gazza_d [255 posts]
5th September 2012 - 9:30

4 Likes

toab wrote:
4th paragraph - should that say "...Lundstram had been up all night..."?

Yes, and it does now - thanks for the spot.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8369 posts]
5th September 2012 - 9:40

9 Likes

What a b*stard. If you run off after causing something like this, it's simply because your fear of the consequences (for yourself) outweighs your concern for the victim. There's a definition of selfish if ever there was one. In some ways though, I suppose it's just an extreme version of what I/we see regularly, where someone else's journey time is more important than my safety.

8 months is a joke.

Deepest sympathies for the victim's family.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3399 posts]
5th September 2012 - 9:46

6 Likes

What a heartless b*stard.

"Peter Moss, defending Lundstram, said that his client, who pleaded guilty to causing death while driving without insurance and failure to stop, was “remorseful” and “contrite” and that the incident “will haunt him for the rest of his life.”". He doesn't sound like the kind of person who's going to lose any sleep over this at all.

posted by Sadly Biggins [266 posts]
5th September 2012 - 10:00

9 Likes

Well i hope when he goes to prison he gets his just rewards and someone uses him for their enjoyment.

When will any Govt change the laws to make it a longer sentence, i wont hold my breath Angry

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2818 posts]
5th September 2012 - 10:11

7 Likes

As usual, there'll be a lot of attention to the short custodial sentence, but my concern is more about the length of the driving ban. Two and a half years for a previously banned driver, without insurance, in an unroadworthy vehicle, who kills and flees the scene? Surely he's proven beyond any doubt that he's not a fit person to operate a dangerous machine in public.

posted by steff [81 posts]
5th September 2012 - 10:20

4 Likes

What a pathetic sentence. Disgraceful.

posted by seanbolton [140 posts]
5th September 2012 - 10:40

8 Likes

I'll just add my ha'porth to what's gone before. How is a sentence of a mere 8 months justified? He's murdered somebody and should get a penal sentence. Absolutely ridiculous - when will the law be changed?

posted by ploughclose [19 posts]
5th September 2012 - 10:52

8 Likes

This is just such a terrible case, but I'd like to ask that we stop using the kind of language like "his vehicle had struck..." etc. We don't say "his gun had shot...". Vehicles don't hit people of their own volition; people hit others /with/ vehicles.

posted by roseofwinter [42 posts]
5th September 2012 - 11:06

8 Likes

+1. Surely his action of leaving a cyclist with a head injury in the road who then subsequently passed away from the injuries that he caused is involuntary manslaughter. He may not have set out to kill her, but his negligence after the collision significantly diminished her chances of survival.

Michael Lundstram is clearly a truly cruel and selfish human being. The leniency of the justice system in this and similar cases demonstrates what a motorist centric society the UK has become.

posted by cookdn [15 posts]
5th September 2012 - 11:44

8 Likes

stumps wrote:
Well i hope when he goes to prison he gets his just rewards and someone uses him for their enjoyment.

When will any Govt change the laws to make it a longer sentence, i wont hold my breath Angry

It is certainly hard to see how the judge could not have imposed a tougher sentence, or how the CPS could not have imposed an aggravating offence in view of the failure to assist or seek assistance.

We can only hope that he spends his 8 months (actually probably half that) as some lifer's "bitch" - "hey honey, you look cute".

Perchance to dream

posted by Paul M [321 posts]
5th September 2012 - 13:22

7 Likes

Paul M wrote:
stumps wrote:
Well i hope when he goes to prison he gets his just rewards and someone uses him for their enjoyment.

We can only hope that he spends his 8 months (actually probably half that) as some lifer's "bitch" - "hey honey, you look cute".

Perchance to dream

Nice to see the competitive sadistic fantasising kicking off early.

posted by msw [126 posts]
5th September 2012 - 13:55

7 Likes

While the sentence is disapointing, but at least it is a custodial sentence.

But surely causing death by careless or dangerous driving should result in a life ban. Given the damage they have already caused, there is no reason to let them drive again.

posted by thereverent [313 posts]
5th September 2012 - 14:14

6 Likes

thereverent wrote:
While the sentence is disapointing, but at least it is a custodial sentence.

But surely causing death by careless or dangerous driving should result in a life ban. Given the damage they have already caused, there is no reason to let them drive again.

It looks as though he was convicted of causing death by driving (while) uninsured, which is a different offence and "does not require proof of any fault in the standard of driving."

On the sentence, it looks from that CPS page as though:
- this carries the lightest sentence of any causing death while driving offence
- he wasn't disqualified, he was uninsured, which is considered less serious (so presumably means the judge is unable to give the maximum sentence)
- he claimed that he genuinely believed he was insured, which if the court believed is a mitigating factor which would cut the sentence further.

As the family said, looks like the judge's hands were pretty much tied. Perhaps the question is why the CPS didn't think they could make a Causing Death by Dangerous Driving charge stick. One might think that hitting a cyclist was pretty good evidence that he was driving dangerously.

posted by msw [126 posts]
5th September 2012 - 14:31

7 Likes

Yes, casuing death by dangerous driving would have been more appropriate. A longer ban would also be warranted. None of this will bring back the victim of course, and nor will all the revenge plotting in some comments.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2286 posts]
5th September 2012 - 15:49

7 Likes

Can't believe the plea of the solicitor, he should be locked up as well instead of bleeding the system.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [982 posts]
5th September 2012 - 16:12

7 Likes

Quote:
banning him from driving for two and a half years

We badly need lifetime driving bans imposed for things like this. This person has shown that they cannot be trusted with the responsibility of driving. Driving is a privilege, not a right.

And fleeing the scene of the collision is not merely selfish, it's psychotic.

posted by benb [51 posts]
5th September 2012 - 20:46

7 Likes

it makes you wonder if a deal was done - I'll plea guilty to x if you drop charge y...

8 months for killing someone, running away and leaving them to die alone on a road is an absolutely pathetic 'punsihment' and as many have noted he will only serve half that because that's the way the british legal system works. Disgusting.

posted by md6 [157 posts]
7th September 2012 - 12:09

7 Likes

What a coward. Fancy hiding in the bushes after knocking someone down! Is all of this mainly due to his bald tires or was he simply tired? I hope car owners know the importance of regular servicing of their vehicles. It may take some time and money, but it could definitely prevent the loss of a life. Actually, it may even save you more money in the long run. For example, my friend recently bought an old BMW car, and after a quick servicing, he realized its swirl flaps are faulty, and it was immediately replaced at a low cost. If he had waited, it could have damaged the engine further and required a higher cost.

Peter Mould - http://www.pmwltd.co.uk

posted by Peter_Mould [17 posts]
19th December 2012 - 7:31

3 Likes

The Brief said his client was “terrified at the prospect of an immediate custodial sentence.” Good! Incidentally a motor-cyclist recently got a similar sentance (6 months prison and 18 month ban) for speeding on a local link road; aggravating features being 122mph and his son on the back. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/7918212.stm
But Lundstrams' offence seems to me far worse? But; he should be out early in the new year; lucky him.....

posted by SideBurn [852 posts]
19th December 2012 - 8:57

6 Likes

There was a similar case in Newcastle, too. The car hit a young lady cycling to school. The motorist did not call the ambulance, but was just looking from afar. He did not even bother to step out of his car, and instead sped off. Luckily another motorist spotted the young lady but while the other motorist was calling the ambulance, the lady died on the spot.

Carl Garrison : Logbook Loans

posted by CGarrison [1 posts]
15th January 2013 - 9:53

7 Likes