"…An accident waiting to happen " - Diabetic who fell unconscious while driving jailed for seriously injuring cyclist

Penny Mair also banned from driving for 5 years - but case raises questions over consistency of sentencing

A diabetic driver who lost consciousness at the wheel and struck a cyclist, seriously injuring him, has been jailed for 18 months.

The sentence was handed down to 42-year-old Penny Mair at Preston Crown Court after she admitted causing serious injury through dangerous driving to cyclist Robert Chick, aged 52, reports The Mirror.

Judge Heather Lloyd told Mair: “It is fortunate the cyclist was not killed. This was an accident waiting to happen.”

The court heard that Mair had a history of such episodes, including a hypoglycaemic seizure in 2011 while in her car when she could not be brought round afterwards.

On the day she fell unconscious and struck Mr Chick in Blackpool in April 2013, she had failed to test her blood glucose levels before driving.

Mr Chick told police, “I remember flying through the air.” His injuries included a punctured lung and broken ribs. He also broke both his legs, which needed to have screws and plates inserted, and he had to learn how to walk again.

“The decision to drive was dangerous,” the judge told Mair, who was also banned from driving for five years and will have to take an extended retest. “You know you are liable to have hypoglycaemic episodes and yet you drove with your mother and daughter as passengers.

“This matter is so serious that only immediate custody is appropriate, not just as a punishment, but a deterrent to others who may risk lives when driving while wholly unfit to do so,” the judge added.

“There are five such fatal crashes a year and forty five serious ones. Many go unreported.”

One such incident in which sentencing took place last month saw Charles Maxted, aged 53, jailed for 15 months and banned from driving for 20 years for causing the death by dangerous driving in August 2012 of cyclist Graham Epps.

Maxted, a Type 1 diabetic who had failed to check his blood glucose levels on the day in question, also entered a guilty plea.

The offence he was convicted of at Maidstone Crown Court carries a maximum punishment of 14 years’ imprisonment, while the maximum jail term for the one Mair admitted is five years.

The difference in the sentences handed down to them – and the huge discrepancies in the respective lengths of their bans – are likely to give rise to concerns over the consistency of the courts when sentencing in such cases.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc 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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