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5 years in jail for driver who was on phone when she killed cyclist

Julie Watson deleted record of call from her phone after hitting Alistair Speed

A driver who was making a phone call when she killed a cyclist, then tried to delete a record of it, has been sentenced to five years in prison and banned from driving for 10 years, reports STV.

Julie Watson, aged 36, was convicted last month of causing the death by dangerous driving of cyclist Alistair Speed in Fife on 5 September 2013. Mr Speed, from Glenrothes, died of severe head injuries.

She was also found guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice due to her deleting the record of the call before she dialled 999 to summon help.

Passing sentence yesterday at the High Court in Glasgow, judge Lord Kinclaven told the mother-of-two: "You have demonstrated remorse which I accept is genuine for causing Mr Speed's death and you are well aware of the devastation that has been caused to Mr Speed's family and indeed all those who knew him."

He added: "The use of a mobile phone has the capacity to wreck lives and literally kill. Use of a handheld mobile phone is in itself an unlawful act.

"The fact an offender is avoidably distracted by the use of a mobile phone when committing an offence of this sort will always make an offence more serious."

During her trial, Jim Keegan QC, prosecuting, had said: “The use of a mobile phone, especially calling out, is a conscious, wilful act. The use of a phone when driving, a hand-held phone, is an offence."

Watson, who was convicted unanimously by the jury, had claimed, "The first time I took the phone out was to phone for an ambulance," but her mobile phone provider’s records proved otherwise.

Mr Speed’s sister, Mhairi Laffoley, told the court that both her parents died within three months of his death.

She described the impact on her family as “horrendous,” adding, “It will never be the same. He was everything to us.”

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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