A drunk driver who ran over a 10-year-old cyclist in West Sussex then drove home with the youngster’s bike wedged under his car has been jailed for two and a half years.
The victim, from Pulborough, was cycling along Church Street, West Chiltington, with his father and another rider when the local resident, 76 year old Keith Vernon, who lives in the village, struck him from behind.
The child was thrown over his bike’s handlebars and onto the road, with Vernon continuing to drive over him despite shouts from the two other cyclists as well as members of the public for him to stop.
He then reversed over the boy, destroying his cycle helmet – as shown in the picture below, supplied by Sussex Police – before driving away.
The incident happened at around 10.20pm on 6 October last year, with the victim sustaining a broken collarbone, fractured vertebrae, a fractured pelvis, a dislocated hip and facial injuries.
Police officers went to the address of the registered keeper of the Renault Twingo car involved in the crash and found it unattended, with the driver – subsequently identified ads Vernon – having mounted a kerb and with the bike still wedged underneath the vehicle.
Vernon, who is retired, was breathalysed and found to be more than twice the legal limit for drink-driving, returning a reading of 77mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath in his system. The legal limit is 35mcg.
He pleaded guilty in February at Worthing Magistrates’ Court to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, drink-driving and failing to stop after a road traffic collision.
Yesterday, he was sentenced at Hove Crown Court to two and a half years in jail and was also banned from driving for four and a half years.
Jailing Vernon, Judge Shani Barnes said that he had made a conscious decision to drive despite being drunk, and rejected his claim that he had not seen the cyclists, and that he did not know the victim was under his car.
She said that he had sought to protect himself over anyone else, deciding to go home and making no attempt to call 999 nor to return to the scene.
Senior Investigating officer, Sergeant Richard Hornsey of Sussex Police said: “Vernon was driving home after drinking in a local pub and was over the drink-drive limit when he collided with the cyclist. This was clearly a traumatic incident for those directly involved, but it has also affected the wider community.
“Vernon ignored the pleas of the bystanders, which included the child’s father, and they described the wheels of the car spinning as Vernon tried to drive away while the child and the bicycle were trapped underneath.
“The child was wearing a cycle helmet which received significant damage but protected him from a more serious head injury.
“Vernon drove for over a quarter of a mile through the village with the bicycle trapped under his car, but at no point did he stop to check if the cyclist was still underneath, which shows a complete disregard for the safety of other road users,” he added.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.