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"Incredibly light" sentence for driver who killed Sheffield cyclist

John Parkin died on first ride out on new bike

After a driver was jailed for just six months for causing the death of a cyclist by careless driving, cycling charity CTC has again called for longer driving bans for those responsible for deaths on the roads.

Samuel Mason was sentenced to six months in a young offenders institute and banned from driving for 18 months for causing the death by careless driving of John Parkin on May 2, 2013, reports the Sheffield Telegraph.

CTC Road Justice campaigner Rhia Weston said this was “an incredibly light sentence for driving which was considered by the judge to be on the borderline with reckless or dangerous driving.”

Mr Parkin, 42, had just collected a new Colnago bike and was out on its maiden ride when he was hit by a black Toyota driven by Mr Mason, then aged 18.

Mr Parkin owned a car repair business and had ordered the new bike from Sheffield’s Langsett Cycles after getting back into cycling.

Shop owner Andrew Elston told the Sheffield Telegraph: “He had lost a bit of weight and was getting all the benefits,” said Andrew. “But he said he wasn’t going to pick up the new bike until the weather was right.”

The weather was right on May 2, the warmest day of the year, when Mr Parkin took his new bike out into the Peak District.

Mason was driving along the A6013 in the Peak village of Bamford when he passed a parked delivery van and turned into Brentwood Road, hitting Mr Parkin who was riding in the opposite direction.

Mason claimed he had not seen the cyclist, but a driver who was behind him told police she had seen Mr Parkin coming down the hill. Witnesses described Mason as looking impatient.

Mason pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at Derby Crown Court and must take an extended test before driving again.

In a statement, Mr Parkin’s wife Karen said: “John wasn’t just my husband, he was my best friend. We were so in love, and there wasn’t a day gone by when we didn’t say it or show it to each other.

“Our son James had just turned 21 in April and John was so proud of him. I feel so lost without him it feels like I died on May 2. I want the accused to know what they have taken from us. They will never get our forgiveness. They didn’t just take my husband and James’ dad, they took us as well.”

Judge John Pini QC told Mason : “I do not regard this as a momentary inattention, nearer to reckless risk taking. Mr Parkin was visible for 57 metres from where you were. Your miscalculation cost him his life. In the pre-sentence report there is not one single word of remorse or one expression of sympathy for the family of the deceased.”

On hearing news of Mr Parkin’s death, Colnago donated a bike which was raffled at last year’s Claremont Sheffield Grand Prix in aid of his family’s chosen charity, Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance.

CTC Road Justice campaigner Rhia Weston said: “This is an incredibly light sentence for driving which was considered by the judge to be on the borderline with reckless or dangerous driving. When the offence of ‘causing death by careless driving’ falls not far short of dangerous driving, judges can impose anything between six months and three years custody.

“The order to sit an extended re-test is not mandatory for this offence so it is encouraging that the judge ordered one in this case, but this should have been accompanied by a much longer driving ban.

“CTC’s Road Justice campaign is calling for much greater use of re-education, substantial driving bans and other non-custodial sentences to be used when sentencing drivers for similar offences.”

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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