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Suspended sentence and 12 month ban for driver who killed Suffolk cyclist

"Exemplary citizen" unable to explain how she failed to see rider on clear sunny day...

A driver who hit and killed a cyclist in Suffolk last year has been handed a six-month suspended sentence and banned for 12 months after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Deborah Lumley-Holmes, 53, drove into the back of 51-year-old Julian Evans on Newmarket Road, Risby, on October 7, 2012. Mr Evans suffered serious head injuries and died in hospital the next day.

According to reports from Ipswich Star and Bury Free Press, Judge John Holt said the case was an “absolute tragedy”. He said he had read four victim impact statements and it was inadequate to describe Mr Evans’ family as “devastated”.

Prosecutor Robert Sadd said that Lumley-Holmes should have seen Mr Evans who was riding on a straight stretch of road on a dry, sunny day with clear visibility.

Mr Sadd said police accident investigators estimated Lumley-Holmes would have been able to see Mr Evans for 200m. If she was travelling at 30mph she would have had 11 seconds to see him. “This was not momentary inattention,” said Mr Sadd.

Mitigating, Michael Proctor said that Lumley-Holmes had no recollection of seeing Mr Evans before the accident. She was a vulnerable defendant who had suffered an abusive childhood, her teenage years in care and been diagnosed with a personality disorder.

As a result of the collision Lumley-Holmes had been “devastated and horrified” and suffered a form of post traumatic stress disorder.

He said she was an “exemplary citizen” who had raised £18,000 for charity and had volunteered at a local hospice.

Passing sentence, Judge Holt said: “You can’t explain what happened and I accept that, so precisely why you didn’t see Mr Evans will remain a mystery.”

He said that even accepting the view of her own expert Lumley-Holmes would have had a clear view of Mr Evans for 60m which meant that if she was driving at 30mph he would have been in her view for four-and-a half seconds. If she was driving at 40mph he would have been in her view for three-and-a half seconds.

Mr Evans’ family declined to comment on the sentence, but Lumley-Holmes said: “I would like to say how very sorry and devastated I am for the accident and tragic loss of Julian Evans and to say how sorry I am for the loss, hurt and suffering this has caused the family and those dear to him.

“I pray and hope that in the future the family can forgive me for their tragic loss.”

Lumley-Holmes was also ordered to do 200 hours community service and to attend a women’s emotional wellbeing course.

CTC Road Justice comment

Cycle campaign charity CTC said that this was another example of a court putting the impact on the perpetrator before that on the victim's family and handing down far too short a ban.

CTC campaigner Rhia Weston said: "Again we see far more emphasis in court on the impact of a fatal collision on the perpetrator of the collision than on the victims (i.e. the bereaved’s family).

"It doesn’t matter how charitable a person is, this does not affect their form of driving, therefore, although a suspended sentence is appropriate in this case, it should have been accompanied by a much longer driving ban and possibly a re-test."

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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