A drink driver who failed to stop at the scene of a collision which left a cyclist with a potentially serious head injury told police that he believed that he “had only hit a traffic cone”.
Motorist Daniel Towers was handed a 12-month community order, with 200 hours of unpaid work, and banned from driving for 16 months after pleading guilty at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court to drink driving, careless driving, and failing to stop after a collision, the News and Star reports.
The 34-year-old was driving home from Carlisle city centre at around 9.30pm on 16 November when he struck a cyclist on the A7 at Stanwix Bank before driving on. Police were called to the scene by witnesses, who described the cyclist as “barely conscious”.
Prosecutor George Shelley told the court that the victim, who was also “struggling to breathe”, had sustained several injuries in the collision, including a potentially serious head injury, and was taken to Cumberland Infirmary to be treated.
According to Shelley, the cyclist suffered memory loss in the crash and only remembered waking up in hospital. However, the long-term impact of the collision is currently unclear, as police have since been unable to contact the cyclist, and no victim statement was prepared for court.
Nevertheless, officers from Cumbria Constabulary were able to trace the motorist after one witness noted down the registration number of Towers’ Volvo, while debris on the road also matched the damage later found on the driver’s car.
After a breathalyser test later that night returned a reading of 51mcg of alcohol in 100mls of breath (the legal limit is 35mcg), Towers claimed that he had only consumed “one beer” at 7.30pm before driving home, where he apparently drank some more. However, the prosecutor noted that “no bottles were found in the refuse bin or the kitchen bin”.
The motorist also told police that he didn’t feel that he needed to stop after the collision as “he believed that he had only hit a traffic cone”.
Mitigating, Jeff Smith told the court that “loud music” was playing in the car at the time of the incident and that neither Towers or his female passenger were aware of the collision.
Issuing Towers with a 12-month community order, with 200 hours’ unpaid work, District Judge John Temperley noted his concern that no detailed information about the cyclist’s injuries was available.
He also handed the 34-year-old a 16-month driving ban, and ordered him to pay costs of £85 and a £114 victim surcharge. Towers was offered the opportunity to participate in a drink driver rehabilitation course which, if completed, will reduce the length of the ban.
The motorist’s lawyer said that he intends to commute to work by bike for the duration of his imposed hiatus from driving.
“He was cycling to work at 6.30am yesterday morning,” Smith said. “He’s suffered significant anxiety since the commission of this offence, and he knows that he has done wrong. He hasn’t had a drink since the accident and does not intend to drink in the future.”
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.