Thames Valley Police’s Christmas anti-drink driving campaign includes a chilling audio recording of a driver who had hit a cyclist and left him for dead making a bogus 999 call to claim her car had been stolen from outside a pub.
Maria Sutton, aged 27, was sentenced to four years and one month in prison in June this year for causing the death through careless driving while over the prescribed limit of cyclist Graham Ruecroft, 54, and for failing to stop at the scene and perverting the course of justice.
In the recording, Sutton said: “I parked my car at the pub probably about four, five hours ago and my dad just rang me asking if I’m alright, and I was like ‘Yeah, I’m fine, why?’
"He turned round and said that the Cholsey Straight is closed off or something, then he turned round and said 'can I check your registration number?'
"I gave him my registration number and he said my car's gone."
The operator asked her, “So your car’s missing from the pub?”
Sutton replied: “The car’s been stolen, then there was an accident because the whole of the road’s closed off, um … so, yeah. Now I want to know where the hell my car is."
Thames Valley Police’s campaign also includes audio of a motorist speaking to a police operator after he discovered Mr Ruecroft lying in the road at Cholsey, near Wallingford in Oxfordshire, after Sutton had hit him.
Both recordings are in the video above, which was released by police in June, and which includes the reaction of Mr Ruecroft’s family when it was played back to them after Sutton was sentenced earlier this year at Oxford Crown Court.
By re-releasing them ahead of the Festive Season, officers hope that they will discourage motorists to get behind the wheel while over the limit.
Sutton, who had spent the afternoon drinking in a pub, eventually admitted all of the charges laid against her – but not before she had launched a petition on the website Change.org calling for it to be compulsory for cyclists to have to wear helmets.
The petition, in which she said “I have been involved in an accident with a cyclist and he unfortunately died,” adding that “He wasn't wearing a helmet or reflective clothing and had flashing lights,” was taken down, apparently after Change.org were made aware of the circumstances of the case.
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.