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Drunk driver who crashed into cyclist, breaking his neck, walks free from court

Judge imposes suspended sentence on Leah Roots, saying her decision to drive after drinking was a “moment of stupidity”

A​ driver who knocked a cyclist from his bike, resulting in his neck being broken, has walked free from court after a judge who described her as having had a “moment of stupidity” handed her a suspended sentence.

Leah Roots, aged 28 and from Godstone, Surrey, had pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court to causing serious injury by dangerous driving – an offence which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail – failure to stop following an accident and drink-driving, reports Kent Online.

The court heard that CCTV captured the moment when Roots hit cyclist David Shirley, who was wearing a hi-viz vest, on Mill Hill in Edenbridge, Kent, on 8 August 2021.

The footage showed that despite the force of the impact causing the bumper of her vehicle to become detached, she failed to stop at the scene.

People living nearby who heard the crash alerted police after finding Mr Shirley lying injured in the road.

He was given first aid by an off-duty sergeant from Kent Special Constabulary, and two off-duty Metropolitan Police Officers assisted by closing the road so he could receive treatment.

Police officers used the CCTV pictures and ANPR cameras to identify her vehicle, which they found, damaged, when they visited her home three hours after the collision.

Recorder Laurence Harris, the judge in the case, described Root’s decision to drive while drunk as being a “moment of stupidity.”

He sentenced her to 16 months in jail, suspended for 18 months, and to pay the victim £500 in compensation.

“You did not stop,” he told her. “You made no attempt to call for an ambulance or help Mr Shirley."

Referring to police visiting her home after the collision, he said: “You were asked if you knew why officers were there and said no.

“You were asked to take a breath test which showed you were over the legal alcohol limit and were arrested.

“On any basis, your dangerous driving has had a serious impact on Mr Shirley, both physical and mental.

“The spinal fracture which you caused meant that he was required to wear a neck brace for 12 weeks after the accident. He also suffered a cut left ear.

“Your moment of stupidity in driving under the influence of alcohol has led to a profound impact on Mr Shirley’s life and well-being. No sentence that I pass can undo that impact.

“There was also a significant impact on his vision, causing him headaches, loss of depth perception requiring him to use a walking stick and restricting his ability to go out socially,” the judge added.

“There are inevitably concerns about the longer-term impact of this serious injury."

Root, a mother of two,was also banned from driving for 30 months, and will have to wear a tag to monitor a 90-day abstinence from alcohol imposed by the judge, as well as a six-month, three days a week curfew.

Simon joined 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.

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