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Suspended sentence for Milton Keynes driver who killed cyclist while fiddling with car radio

Police say case highlights dangers of driver distraction plus need to check insurance in force

A motorist who killed a cyclist in Milton Keynes when he drove into him while adjusting his car radio has been given a six-month jail sentence suspended for two years and banned from driving for 15 months.

Martin Boulton, of Woughton on the Green, had earlier pleaded guilty to causing the death in March 2011 by careless driving of 43-year-old father-of-two Robert Gregory of Milton Keynes, as well as causing death by driving a vehicle while uninsured.
Boulton was also sentenced to 200 hours’ unpaid work and fined £350 plus a £15 victim surcharge, according to a statement from Thames Valley Police.

Investigating officer PC Naomi Hames from the force’s Road Death Investigation Team in Aylesbury, commented: “This is a very sad case and my thoughts continue to be with the family of Robert Gregory who have been very supportive throughout the police investigation.

“Martin Boulton admitted he was adjusting his car radio and failed to see Mr Gregory cycling along the road. When he did see him, sadly it was too late for him to take any preventative action.

“Although it is not against the law to adjust car radios while driving, this case is a stark reminder that driving is a multi-functional task which needs undivided attention. Any distraction can lead to a tragic outcome,” she added.

“Mr Boulton was also driving while uninsured and while it is accepted by police that it was not a deliberate act on his part, I want to remind drivers that it is their responsibility to check they have valid insurance in place, especially after renewing or changing to a new insurance company.

“Just because third party cover has been provided in the past it does not always follow that they will automatically be given this cover on renewal. It often has to be specifically requested,” PC Hames concluded.

In a statement released by Mr Gregory’s wife Christina via Thames Valley Police following his death, she described how her husband was killed “while out cycling enjoying the sport he loved so much.

“He lived most of his life in and around Milton Keynes and made many friends in his lifetime and will be missed by many. Rob worked as a maintenance engineer with One Stop which he really enjoyed even though he had at times long distances to travel.

“Rob was such a caring person, he was a loving father and doted on his children and was a wonderful husband filling our lives with so much love and laughter.

“Rob loved his cycling and would cycle for miles exploring the county. When he wasn’t cycling he would be making improvements to our home, just last year building a conservatory for our children to play in.

“He was loved and highly thought of by all that knew him always ready to offer a helping hand to those who needed it, and no one loved him more than his family. He will be missed more than anyone will ever know, he was a great father with so much patience he loved nothing more than having his son work alongside of him and was in the process of teaching his son how to ride his bike without stabilisers.

“Rob made a large impression on so many people even those that only knew him for a short time and they have shown such sorrow at our loss. I can’t put into words what a caring man he was and what a great hole he will make in so many people’s lives. Rob’s life that was taken away so cruelly leaves behind his loving wife Christina and his two children Aaron aged five and Zoe, aged two,” she added.

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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Ciaran Patrick | 12 years ago

A wife two kids aged 2 and 5. Adjusting your radio in such away as to lose control of the car - I thought you had to in control of the car at all times - why do we have laws against using the mobile phone - because it distracts the driver - looking at the radio and changing the radio is the same.

If it had been a pedestrian he would have had the book thrown at him. 6 months suspended sentence - is all that a death of a cyclist and young family means to the law. It not right - The police officers comments above terrible. They just don't care. If you are pedestrian or a driver your fine cyclists can go swing.

Driving to kill is wrong and that is what this guy was doing. Ignorance is not an excuse. Oh makes my blood boil.

My sincerely condolences to the family

DCRider | 12 years ago

I have frequently wondered if anyone had ever done a comparison of sentences handed down in car-pedestrian accidents and car-cycle accidents. My impression is that sentences are heavier when a pedestrian is involved????

OldRidgeback | 12 years ago

It is a very sad case.

moonbucket | 12 years ago

Most decent drivers will have memorized the radio buttons or use stalk mounted controls so that they remain focused on the road.

Lord forbid I ever crash into someone (and like most people here will probably agree - cycling actually improves one's driving) - at least I have my excuse at the ready.

In all seriousness, this is an insult and an absolute affront to the victim and his family.  14

Blackhound | 12 years ago

Interesting to see how The Times report this tomorrow in light of there campaign.

Ush | 12 years ago

Utterly unacceptable.

Driving is a dangerous activity.

Those that are shown not to be capable of it should at the least not be granted the privilege of performing it.

Again the police and courts completely fail.

beaconlight replied to Ush | 12 years ago

Dreadful loss for the man's family but....

The Police do the investiagtion.
The CPS decide whether it goes to court.
The Courts decide guilty/not guilty and sentence.

Thus if you have a problem with the investigation contact the Police. If you don't like anything to do with the trial contact the CPS. If you don't like the sentence (and let's be honest, none of us do)contact your local MP or petition the Home Office.

Don't "spraygun" the blame...

Simon_MacMichael | 12 years ago

To clarify, a 'victim surcharge' does not go to the victim (or next of kin) and is a fixed amount, regardless of the crime.

It was introduced in 2007, as reported by the BBC at the time:

"All fines for criminal offences will carry an additional "victims surcharge" of £15, the Home Office has announced.

"The levy will be added on top of every fine handed out in court for a criminal offence from 1 April.

"It will be paid into a fund aimed at helping improve services for victims of crime, and will be fixed at a flat rate regardless of the size of the fine.

"However, they will not apply to fixed penalty notices after earlier plans provoked an outcry from motorists."

More here:

mad_scot_rider | 12 years ago

“Although it is not against the law to adjust car radios while driving ...


It's called Driving Without Due Care and Attention you toolbag!

Bez replied to mad_scot_rider | 12 years ago
mad_scot_rider wrote:

Bollocks! It's called Driving Without Due Care and Attention you toolbag!

The PC is correct, it's not against the law to adjust a radio (or indeed do a number of other things) whilst driving. It *is* against the law to do so such that you are left giving insufficient care and attention to driving the car. Which is why in this case the driver was found guilty of causing death by careless driving.

As an analogy, you're at liberty on the bike to have a drink from your water bottle or fish things out of your jersey pockets whilst riding; but doing so whilst riding downhill towards a T-junction would be somewhat careless.

Velo_Alex | 12 years ago

£15? Driving un-insured not a deliberate act? Well that settles it: If you want to take a life without fear of punishment just get in a car and kill a cyclist.

Utterly, completely obscene.

mancsi | 12 years ago

Condolences. This is tragic and a £15 surcharge to the victim.


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