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Ravinder Matharu was on the phone when he killed Matei Alexandru on New Year’s Eve

A driver from Essex who was on the phone to his girlfriend when he hit a cyclist causing fatal injuries and then fled the scene has been jailed for four years one month.

Ravinder Matharu, aged 32 and from South Ockenden, has also been banned from driving for seven years and will have to take an extended retest once that expires to get his licence back, reports yourthurrock.com.

He pleaded guilty at Basildon Crown Court to causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene of a collision, failing to report a collision, driving whilst disqualified and aggravated taking without consent.

The court heard that he was driving his brother’s Peugeot 206 car on Arisdale Avenue in South Ockenden on New Year’s Eve last year when he struck 43-year-old Matei Alexandru, a Romanian national who had been living in the UK for a year.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene despite the efforts of paramedics to administer CPR.

Although the vehicle had what was described as significant damage, including the windscreen and one headlight, Matharu fled the scene and failed to report the collision to the police or the ambulance service.

That evening, police visited the home of his brother, the car’s registered owner, but the vehicle was not there, only being returned in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Matharu, meanwhile, went to another address to try and escape officers, and was arrested at a property in Purfleet later that day.

After the sentencing hearing yesterday, Mr Alexandru’s niece Cristina said on behalf of the family: “When we found out about my uncle’s death we were in complete shock and pain. Such pain never goes away, but rather it is something you get used to.

“The death of my uncle has brought pain, confusion, and a lot of stress. Half of the family is living in Germany, and the other half is in Romania.

“No matter how [Matharu] is punished, it will not change things for us.

“But I hope it will make a difference for him as a person – that he will repent and he will understand what he did. Life is not a joke or a game, let alone careless driving.”

Inspector Rob Brettell of Essex Police’s serious collision investigation unit commented: “My deepest sympathies go out to Mr Alexandru’s family at this incredibly difficult time. They’ve shown a real bravery throughout this process.

“To lose a loved one is unimaginably difficult, but I can’t begin to imagine how tough it’s been for them when they’re more than one thousand miles away.”

He continued: “I’m glad that Matharu had the decency to plead guilty to ensure that they didn’t have to go through a trial, but that doesn’t excuse his appalling crime. Not only did he get behind the wheel of a stolen car knowing that he was disqualified from driving, but he showed the utmost cowardice in his actions after hitting Mr Alexandru.

“By using a mobile phone at the time of the incident, Matharu was so distracted that he was not fully conscious of his surroundings, and it ended in Mr Alexandru’s life being taken.

“Distractions on the roads can be a killer, and I would urge anyone behind the wheel of a vehicle to have their full attention on the road at all times.

“I hope that Matharu’s time in prison gives him a chance to reflect on the consequences of his actions. The lives of Mr Alexandru’s family will never be the same again – and he only has himself to blame,” he added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.