A teenage driver who admitted causing the death of former British Cycling employee Rob Jefferies through careless driving has been given a 12-month community service by magistrates in Weymouth and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service.
Student Lee Cahill, aged 18 and from Wareham, was also banned from driving for 18 months and will have to retake his driving test once that ban expires, reports the Bournemouth Echo.
Cahill, who was training to be a plumber, had pleaded guilty to the charge at his trial last month. He had passed his driving test four months prior to the fatal incident.
The court had heard a witness statement from a driver of the vehicle in front of Cahill’s Renault Clio, in which the motorist described how events unfolded in May last year on the A351 near Wareham.
“Mr Jefferies was cycling inside the white line on the road,” said the witness, a Mr Brown. “I made an exaggerated overtake to give the cyclists room.”
He related how Cahill’s vehicle appeared to be following the same line as the cyclists and said, “I was expecting the car to pull out to overtake them, but it did not.”
Defending counsel Robert Grey told the court that Cahill’s vision had been affected by the sunshine, saying: “The police arranged for a road traffic expert to attend the scene the following day.
“His report stated that drivers travelling north-west at the time of the collision would have had the sun shining almost directly across the road,” continued Mr Grey.
“My client should have slowed down or stopped. Perhaps a more experienced driver would have done,” he added.
“But that is what he has done wrong. He will always remember what he did and what the effect of that was.”
Sharon Morecombe, chairing the magistrates who heard the case, commented: “The consequences of this accident have been devastating for Cahill, who is extremely remorseful.
“However, the effect is considerably more devastating and will remain with the family of Mr Jefferies for the rest of their lives,” she added.
Prosecuting counsel Andrew Newman read the court a statement from Mr Jefferies’ family in which he was described as “a lovely dad and fabulous stepdad.”
His widow, Jane, spoke of how the 43-year-old would give their daughter Eve, aged 12, a hand with their schoolwork. He was also stepfather to her son Gerorge, aged 29. “I cannot make up for their loss," she continued. "We were looking forward to a change in our life together.
“Rob was doing a teaching course and we were looking forward to financial and domestic stability which would enable us to be closer. Now I have lost that.”
In a statement read out at Cahill's trial last month, she had said: “I feel angry about a system that allows young drivers to take on responsibility for others’ lives that they are not ready for.
“I feel sorry for Lee that he has had to find out the hard way and have his life ruined as his actions have ruined ours.”
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.