A driver has admitted causing the death by careless driving of two cyclists on the A40 in Buckinghamshire last year. He will be sentenced at a later date, but a lawyer acting for the families of the victims says the case highlights the need to reconsider the maximum penalties for the offence.
Cyclists Damien Natale, aged 52, and Andrew Coles, 56, were returning home to Haddenham from a training ride on 1 June last year when they were hit from behind by Clifford Rennie, aged 60.
Paramedics rushed to the scene of the crash on Wycombe Road at Studley Green but were unable to save the cyclists’ lives.
Rennie, of Wallingford, Oxfordshire, was eventually charged in July this year and yesterday pleaded guilty at Wycombe Magistrates’ Court to two counts of causing death by careless driving.
The two cyclists’ families were represented by Matthew Claxson of the law firm Moore Barlow, reports the Bucks Free Press.
Speaking after the hearing, he said: “Carelessness on the roads can have tragic consequences.
“For Damien and Andy’s families they will forever have to live with the impact of losing a loved one.
“The verdict of today’s plea hearing means both families can start to rebuild their lives after the trauma they’ve faced over the last 12 months.
“Both families have found it hard to come to terms with the distinct difference between the charge of careless driving over dangerous driving.
“Both instances can result in a fatality, yet the severity of the punishment remains significantly dissimilar.
“This case acts as a timely reminder that the sentencing for death by careless driving should be revisited,” he added.
Causing death by careless driving carries a maximum jail term of five years, and Rennie, who has been handed an interim driving ban, is due to be sentenced at crown court at a later date following the compilation of pre-sentence reports.
Under sentencing guidelines, a guilty plea is seen as a mitigating factor, resulting in a reduction of the sentence handed down.
As far as aggravating factors are concerned, however, cases where there are multiple victims are seen as “indicating a more than usually serious degree of harm” and would generally result in a longer sentence than if there were a solitary victim.
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.