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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

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."

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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