A lorry driver who killed a cyclist on the A308 near Ashford, Middlesex, has escaped a jail term due to his previous good character, despite the judge in the case having earlier warned him that he was likely to receive a custodial sentence.
The victim, 54-year-old Denis Peachey, who lived nearby, died after being struck from behind by a lorry driven by Michal Mikolajczyk, aged 30, who was finishing a six-hour night shift, reports the website Get Surrey.
Mikolajczyk, who lives in Slough, was sentenced last Friday at Guildford Crown Court to 36 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years. He had earlier been convicted by a jury of causing death by careless driving following a trial that lasted four days.
The driver, who lost his job with Slough-based Medina Food Service due to the interim driving ban imposed on him after that guilty verdict had been returned, was also ordered to carry out 200 hours’ unpaid work and pay £500 costs, and was banned from driving for 18 months.
Sentencing Mikolajczyk on Friday, Judge Neil Stewart said: "This offence certainly crosses the custody threshold. It was more than a mere momentary lapse of attention.
"This incident had dreadful consequences. Mr Peachey suffered devastating injuries from which he died."
However, as a result of the driver’s previous good character and an unblemished driving record prior to the fatal incident, which the prosecution maintained was due to his leaving insufficient space for the cyclist, he escaped jail.
Prosecuting counsel Rachel Davies had told the court that Mr Peachey, described as an experienced cyclist, had been thrown from his bike after Mikolajczyk’s delivery lorry hit his rear wheel at around 6am on the morning of 16 August 2009.
"As a result of the impact, Mr Peachey was knocked off his cycle and died shortly afterwards from the injuries that he sustained," she maintained.
Luke Blackburn, in the driver’s defence, said at Friday’s hearing: "Not a day goes by without him thinking of Mr Peachey. My client will live with the consequences for the rest of his life."
In passing sentence, Judge Stewart commented that there was no sentence that the court could pass that would compensate for Mr Peachey having lost his life.
The judge was given an impact statement from Mr Peachey's partner, Linda Hought, which was not read out in full to the court.
Paraphrasing, the judge stated: "Ms Hought says that Mr Peachey was a very private person. He was an admirable man whose life was tragically cut short that morning. The court can only extend its condolences to his family and those who loved him."
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.