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Suspended sentence for lorry driver who reached for phone and killed cyclist

John Noble pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving

A lorry driver who admitted reaching across to pick up his mobile phone when he struck and killed a cyclist has received a suspended sentence after a judge decided that the fatal collision had been caused by a “momentary lapse of attention.”

Christopher Dennehy, aged 58, died when he was hit from behind by the lorry, driven by 43-year-old John Noble, on the A38 near Plymouth in September last year.

The court heard that both men were committed churchgoers, reports the Plymouth Herald, as Recorder Donald Tait sentenced Noble,.

The driver had admitted causing death by careless driving but had been acquitted in August of causing death by dangerous driving.

He was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for two years.

“Like Christopher, you are a decent man,” said the judge. “You are a committed family man and you have a long history of association with the church.

“This was a moment of carelessness and as human beings it is something we are all guilty of on a daily basis – but it was avoidable.”

The court was told by collision investigators that Noble had perhaps 2 seconds to avoid hitting Mr Dennehy.

While Noble did not himself testify to the court, one of his work colleagues said that he had confided that immediately before the collision he had reached for his mobile phone to play a sermon.

In a statement delivered through the prosecuting counsel, Mr Dennehy’s mother said: “I have no feelings towards the driver of the lorry. I am sure when he woke in the morning he had no intention of causing Christopher’s death.

“He needs to be aware of the feelings of devastation and loss that he has caused the family.”

She added: “Christopher was the reason I got up in the morning and went to sleep at night. Now my home is empty and there is nobody here in the morning and the evening.”

In mitigation on behalf of Noble, Malcolm Galloway said: “He has asked me to repeat again his utmost apologies.

“He knows it goes very little way, but he wishes them to know that he takes responsibility for what happened and it will live with him for the rest of his life.”

As well as handing down a suspended jail sentence, the recorder also said Noble must undertake 250 hours’ unpaid work and recommended that some of that should be carried out on behalf of charities.

He added: “I hope this case will send a message to other road users, who we see day in and day out using mobile phones or other devices.

“It perhaps takes the tragic circumstances of this case to bring home the seriousness of doing this and I just hope other people will learn the lesson.”

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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