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Across country, man who swam in the Thames handed down six months in prison

In the week that the Justice minister Helen Grant agreed to meet with British Cycling to discuss a review of sentencing policy for incidents involving cyclists, a driver has been jailed for eight months after killing a cyclist on a country road.

The case, in which school teacher Neil Thompson, 54, was killed by William Manson, 62, was heard in Leicester Crown Court, where the jury was told that Manson failed to properly judge the speed of an oncoming vehicle when trying to overtake Mr Thompson.

On realising he could not complete the overtaking maneuver, Manson pulled back into his lane, hitting the cyclist and forcing him over the handlebars.

While Manson was handed down an eight month sentence that the judge described as "a message" to other drivers, across the country in  Isleworth Crown Court, London, a man who swam in the Thames to disrupt the annual Boat Race was jailed for six months for "spoil[ing] the enjoyment of others.”

Despite the judge describing Manson's actions as "carelessness to the point of dangerousness", which could be assumed to register at the higher end of sentencing guidelines for careless driving, currently set at five years' imprisonment, Manson was given the lower tariff of six months.

The incident happened at 5pm on January 19 in Newtown Unthank, near Desford, on a series of country roads that both men knew well.

Alan Murphy, prosecuting, said that Mr Thompson was cycling in a "perfectly proper" manner, about a foot into the road from the edge, with front and rear lights, according to This Is Leicestershire.

Mr Murphy said: "As the road straightened he commenced overtaking the bicycle."

Manson was also banned from driving for two years. Sentencing, Judge Sylvia De Bertodano said: "It was carelessness to the point of dangerousness.

"A message has to go out that people who drive cars are in charge of a very dangerous machine.

"If you fail to exercise responsibility and kill someone, you must go to prison."

Manson's lawyer Paul Tubb had argued for leniency, saying that his client "now faces losing his job, which involves a 50-mile round trip each day.

"He would be like a fish out of water if sent to prison."

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.