Driving under the influence of alcohol and with drugs in his system, a Kent motorist hit and killed a cyclist but failed to stop, continuing on to another pub where he ordered a pint. Appearing at Canterbury Crown Court, Joseph Bills was sentenced to three years and four months in prison for causing death by dangerous driving. He was also disqualified from driving for 44 months.
The BBC reports that on March 10, 22-year-old Bills veered his Vauxhall Vivaro van onto the wrong side of Canterbury Road in Whitstable, hitting chef David Thorman head-on.
He had been in two pubs before the collision, drinking beer and Sambuca, and had also taken cocaine the night before.
Bills failed to stop and instead drove to the Rose in Bloom pub, where he arrived with glass in his hair. After ordering a pint, he initially claimed he had had a row with his girlfriend, but then told a friend he had hit a cyclist.
He returned to the crash scene and told police he was the driver involved.
He initially claimed Thorman had been pulling a wheelie in the moments before the crash, but later admitted the claim was false.
He also said he had been reaching down for a cigarette when the collision occurred – a comment he later retracted.
Defending, Phil Rowley said those who saw Bills immediately after the crash had said he was ‘panicked, confused and in a deep state of shock’ and that ‘he returned to the scene relatively quickly’.
Judge Rupert Lowe told Bills: "You drove away in a panic having no regard for the person you had hit. You lost concentration and allowed your van to veer across the road and straight into Mr Thorman's path. You should not have been behind the wheel of your van."
Bills pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop and driving dangerously after the collision.
Speaking after the sentence was announced, investigating officer PC Mark Wooding said: “A judge can only sentence and deal with the law as it presents itself and based upon their judgement and how it fits with that. No sentence will ever compensate for the family’s loss."