Nine months in jail for sat-nav driver who killed cyclist

Sentence well below CPS recommendation for 'low-level' offence...

Victoria McClure, the driver who struck and killed cyclist Anthony Hilson while adjusting her satellite navigation system, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail, but will serve only half that time.

Ms McClure was found guilty in July of causing death by dangerous driving, although she had only pleaded guilty to the less serious charge of causing death by careless driving.

Anthony Hilson was out for a Sunday morning ride on September 9th 2012 when he was hit from behind by Ms McClure on the A4 Bath Road in Twyford, Berkshire.

It was a straight stretch of road and visibility was good, but Ms McClure was adjusting the zoom function on her sat nav. Prosecutors estimated that Mr Hilson would have been in Ms McClure's field of view for at least 18 seconds before the collision.

Passing sentence at Reading Crown Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Wood told Ms McClure that she should have seen Anthony Hilson.

He said: "No sentence I pass will equate to the loss of life and the loss to family and friends.

"You could and should have seen him, he lost his life, a wife lost a husband, children lost a father, they will all have to live with your actions for the rest of their lives, as do you."

Saying he was taking into account her genuine remorse at the time of the crash and the effect on her two children, Justice Wood sentenced McClure to 18 months in jail, but said she would only serve half that period. She was also banned from driving for two and a half years.

Speaking at the time of the verdict, Mr Hilson’s widow Maxine said: “Tony’s never coming home. The girls have still got to grow up without their dad and if there is a lesson to be learned it’s that if you are playing with a sat nav system do it when you’re stationary.”

Rhia Weston, road safety officer with the CTC says that in cases such as this one and that of  Steve Conlan who killed a cyclist when he failed to see a stop sign, the CPS is often not following its own guidelines in selecting an offence to prosecute, and judges are not following sentencing guidelines.

“The sentence McClure received was below the starting point for this type of offence (2-5 years for a ‘low level’ offence) as stated in the sentencing guidelines,” writes Ms Weston.

However, CTC policy is that custodial sentences should be reserved for aggravated and repeat offences. In this case, “CTC would have preferred to see a much longer driving ban,” she writes.

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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