A driver who killed a cyclist on his way home from a night out has been jailed for 32 months for causing his death by careless driving. Stephen Allitt told police: “I thought it was an animal. I just went home and straight to bed.”
The BBC reports that on February 11, 2018, Nicholas Keeler was riding home from a 4pm to midnight shift at the Just Eat Call Centre in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, when he was hit from behind by Allitt on Radlett Road, Aldenham.
Keeler flew up onto the bonnet of Allitt’s Mitsubishi pick-up truck, causing damage to the windscreen, with the impact triggering the vehicle’s airbags.
A police expert estimated Allitt had been driving at between 51 and 61 mph on the 50mph road. He said Keeler had front and rear lights and said that even if the cyclist had not been wearing high vis clothing, he would have been visible for around 75 metres.
A motorist driving in the opposite direction recalled Allitt’s vehicle travelling towards him at speed moments before the collision, adding that he thought the driver was starting to drift over into his lane. Upon hearing a crash, the person stopped and found Keeler lying face down in the road.
After examining debris, police tracked Allitt’s car to his home in Aldenham, arresting him at 1.25pm the following day.
In a statement, Allitt’s then partner said they had been out to Radlett and then St Albans to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
She said Allitt had drunk alcohol, but did not appear overly drunk. She also said she was aware he had taken cocaine.
After telling police he initially believed he had hit an animal, Allitt said he had returned to the scene in the morning and realised this was not the case.
He told police he had drunk three to four bottles of beer. A blood test confirmed he had used cocaine and cannabis. Allitt said he had not taken cocaine that night, but had done so the evening before.
He admitted causing Keeler’s death by careless driving when over the prescribed limit.
Jailing Allitt and banning him from driving for four years and four months, Judge Michael Simon said: “For reasons unclear, you did not see him in his high visibility jacket, with his lights and reflectors on. You could not have been in any doubt of the seriousness of the accident.”
Describing Allitt’s driving as, “more than momentary inattention,” the judge added: “It was utterly irresponsible behaviour in failing to stop. Despite the deployment of the airbags and damaged windscreen and you failed to report what had happened even though you walked past the scene the next morning.
“Nothing Mr Keeler did contributed to the collision. The responsibility for his death is yours alone.”