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Drink driver who “ploughed through cyclist” at 60mph before giving police “cock and bull story” jailed for 14 months

Holly Davies was almost double the drink drive limit when she struck doctor Jonathan Bickford last September – before claiming that the damage to her Mercedes was caused by parking on a main road

A hit-and-run motorist who struck a cyclist from behind at 60mph while at least 75 percent over the legal drink drive limit – before telling police she had no knowledge of the collision – has been jailed for 14 months and banned from driving for 37 months.

Holly Ann Davies lied to police, claiming that the substantial damage to her car was caused by parking on a main road, after she hit Dr Jonathan Bickford on the A354 at Blandford, Dorset last September, in what a judge this week described as a “cock and bull story”, the Dorset Echo reports.

She later admitted charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and drink driving.

A354 Blandford (Google)

The A354 at Blandford

Bournemouth Crown Court heard how Dr Bickford, in his 50s, was cycling on the A354, on his way home to Oxford, shortly after 8am on Monday 19 September, a bank holiday, last year. Speaking in court, a witness described carefully overtaking the cyclist as they approached a roundabout, before noticing the driver of a white Mercedes advancing behind Dr Bickford.

“I literally saw the white car plough through the cyclist, I saw him go up into the air and land back down,” Jodie Miller told the court.

Mrs Miller said she then pulled over and began to frantically attempt to stop the motorist, who continued on their way despite her pleas.

“It seemed like they didn’t want to be seen,” added Mrs Miller, who made a note of the car’s registration before rushing to the stricken cyclist’s aid.

> Drink driver who ploughed into cyclist with friend riding on bonnet jailed for 14 months

Dr Bickford suffered a fractured shoulder blade, a deep laceration to his left elbow, swelling to an ankle, and concussion resulting in retrograde amnesia in the crash. Judge Robert Pawson also noted that his helmet was “shattered to pieces”.

At an earlier court hearing, prosecutor Tim Moores read a statement on behalf of the cyclist which said that the incident had left him with “the realisation that he could have been killed, and the devastation that could have had on his wife and children is still with him”.

Thanks to Mrs Miller taking note of the car’s registration plate, police were able to track Davies down to an industrial estate where she works. There, around four hours after the collision took place, she was found to have 170 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine, substantially over the legal limit of 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres.

In a police interview, she claimed that she recalled seeing the cyclist but believed that she had moved out of the way. The court heard this week that she maintained that she had no knowledge of the collision and claimed that the damage to her car – including a missing wing mirror, a smashed light, and scrapes – had been caused by parking on a main road near her home.

“It’s almost inconceivable that she could not have noticed,” prosecutor Rose Burns said this week. “She was fully aware of the accident happening and should have stopped.”

Judge Pawson also described Davies’ explanation as a “cock and bull story”, adding: “It seemed to me most likely that because she knew she was over the limit… that she drove off. She couldn’t face up to what she’s done, and she can’t still.”

> Hit-and-run driver who had “alcohol, cocaine and cannabis” in system jailed for 13 years for killing cyclist

In mitigation, defence barrister Graham Gilbert noted that Davies suffers from cystic fibrosis, has had cancer, and due to a previous double lung transplant was taking the medication Tacrolimus, a side effect of which can be impaired vision.

Gilbert added that the 36-year-old had been drinking heavily the evening before the collision due to the breakdown of her marriage, and was reportedly crying at the wheel.

“She has had a life that has been littered with hardship. Medically, it’s remarkable she is still with us,” he said. “She fully accepts she should not have got in a car. [It was a] deeply reckless action that has had truly horrific consequences.”

Sentencing, Judge Pawson told the motorist: “You must have known you’d struck [Mr Bickford]. You drove to work, you buried your head in the sand, and then you lied to police.

“I accept that you’re sorry about what happened, but your remorse is undermined by the fact you left the scene.”

He sentenced Davies to 14 months in prison and disqualified her from driving for 37 months. The judge also ordered £500 be paid to Mrs Miller for her “swiftness of thinking” in taking note of the number plate and for her “humanity” in coming to the aid of Dr Bickford.

> Drink driver who caused two crashes and left cyclist in intensive care jailed for 50 months

In a statement, Gavin Newbury, of Dorset Police’s Roads Policing Team, said: “This case is another stark reminder of the dangerous consequences of driving while under the influence of alcohol, not only for the driver but other road users too. There is no doubt that if the cyclist had not been wearing a protective helmet this collision would have been even more serious.

“We remain committed to investigating those who pose such a risk by driving whilst intoxicated and will work tenaciously to ensure those who commit offences are prosecuted and brought before the courts.”

The sentencing is strikingly similar to that handed out last November to Daniel Fownes, a drink driver who could be heard laughing as he sped through a Derbyshire town, while his friend rode on his bonnet, before hitting and injuring a cyclist.

Fownes had been in pubs drinking beer and sambuca in the hours leading up to the incident, and CCTV footage captured the moment he crashed into the cyclist, sending him “20 metres down the road before coming to a stop”.

Fownes – who was already serving a suspended sentence for stealing more than £2,000 from a restaurant – pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, drink driving, and driving without insurance and was handed a 14-month prison sentence.

Last week, a hit-and-run motorist who struck and killed a cyclist while under the influence of alcohol and drugs – later telling police officers that there was “nothing dangerous” about his driving at the time of the fatal collision – was jailed for 13 years.

Gregg Marsh, who killed 53-year-old Shaun Parkin-Coates in West Yorkshire in December 2019, was also banned from driving for 11 years and six months.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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34 comments

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Secret_squirrel | 10 months ago
1 like

Vile habitual driving privelidge abuser  - drunk & vision impaired 

Given the eye sight comment I hope she fails the extended retest (its not mentioned but I hope its part of the sentence) and never drives again.

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ktache | 10 months ago
12 likes

To continue living she will have to take the post transplant drugs for life. Otherwise her body will reject her newish lungs. She knows it impairs her vision, enough not to see the cyclist (apparently...), she would have informed her legal side this, at least that she was taking them.

Why is she ever able to get her right to drive back again?

Her own representative has provided enough evidence for her not to get the chance to seriously injure again, in the motor vehicle, or maybe kill..

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brooksby replied to ktache | 10 months ago
3 likes

Totally agree 

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NOtotheEU replied to ktache | 10 months ago
0 likes

ktache wrote:

To continue living she will have to take the post transplant drugs for life. Otherwise her body will reject her newish lungs. She knows it impairs her vision . . .

So she can either keep living or keep driving?

Sounds like a win win situation to me.

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iandusud | 10 months ago
7 likes

Defendant: "In mitigation as well as bing pissed I was also taking drugs that impair my vision."

What sort of an argument is that? 

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emperorsin | 10 months ago
4 likes

Love the Defence's argument of visual impairment being a factor, no shit she was drunk her vision was not the only thing they could have cited as being impaired. The judge's lenient sentence probably points to him being from the old contributory negligence school, clearly the cyclist wanted to be injured or he wouldn't have been on a bike. Not enough clorine in the Judical gene pool I'm afraid.

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OldRidgeback | 10 months ago
12 likes

It doesn't seem a particularly severe sentence given the severity of the offences committed. But praise is due for the woman who stopped to help the cyclist and who was quick thinking enough to take the vehicle reg no of the offender. Without her, it's quite likely that this would've been an unresolved hit and run. I hope the victim heals up ok.

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Kapelmuur | 10 months ago
5 likes

I don't understand how her defence gave 'impaired vision because of medication' as mitigation unless they wanted to ensure she was found guilty.

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chrisonabike replied to Kapelmuur | 10 months ago
4 likes

Incompetence paradox, no?  For driving charges just invoke sympathy / fellow-feeling; you'll probably get your client off or at worst a minimal sentence.  About the only exception - as here - is if they were intoxicated.  Mostly magistrates, judges and juries are going to view you as a wrong'un for that.

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lonpfrb replied to Kapelmuur | 10 months ago
4 likes

I was unfit to drive your honour so it's not my fault....

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HLaB replied to Kapelmuur | 10 months ago
0 likes

Its a terrible argument but it wasn't just being p1ssed, the bigger thing was medical  7 Similar to, they did it too, but more than me  7 Some folk also think a medical excuse outweighs/ explains bad things.  As if that an excuse 

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bobbypuk | 10 months ago
11 likes

OK, I will hear (but not really accept) the arguments about prison sentences but a 3 year ban?! Where are lifetime bans? This person showed no remorse, lied about the incident, fled the scene and was drinking. This was not an moments districation, this was a pre-meditated illegal act and lying to cover it up. Should never drive again.

It also sounds as if the defense was arguing that visual impairment was a mitigating factor. Thats an interesting take on using a drug with these warnings:

Driving and skilled tasks
With systemic use:

May affect performance of skilled tasks (e.g. driving).

I can only assume she thought the alcohol would somehow counteract the drug impairment.

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hawkinspeter replied to bobbypuk | 10 months ago
11 likes

bobbypuk wrote:

OK, I will hear (but not really accept) the arguments about prison sentences but a 3 year ban?! Where are lifetime bans? This person showed no remorse, lied about the incident, fled the scene and was drinking. This was not an moments districation, this was a pre-meditated illegal act and lying to cover it up. Should never drive again.

It also sounds as if the defense was arguing that visual impairment was a mitigating factor. Thats an interesting take on using a drug with these warnings:

Driving and skilled tasks
With systemic use:

May affect performance of skilled tasks (e.g. driving).

I can only assume she thought the alcohol would somehow counteract the drug impairment.

Totally agree.

As people can be disqualified from driving due to medical issues, maybe there needs to be some standard of responsibility and care towards others. Permanently revoke the license of people that have demonstrated that they don't have the emotional maturity to drive in much the same way that someone without sufficient visual acuity is not allowed to drive.

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Gus T replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
9 likes

The issue with people driving due to a medical condition is that it the responsibility for reporting these conditions was taken away from Medical Professionals and handed back to the driver. Because driving and car ownership is seen as almost a right, people will not report impairment in case they lose their licence..

In a recent case in Hull/East Yorkshire, a diabetic driver who was going hypoglycemic and had vision impairment pulled out in front of 2 motorcyclists, killing them, has had his case dismissed due to him medical conditions with the judge asking why his licence hadn't been revoked. Surely the Judge shou;ld have been aware that it was the drivers responsibility to report that he was unfit to drive. In this case the motorcyclists families did not receive justice.

https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/double-dea...

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hawkinspeter replied to Gus T | 10 months ago
4 likes

Gus T wrote:

The issue with people driving due to a medical condition is that it the responsibility for reporting these conditions was taken away from Medical Professionals and handed back to the driver. Because driving and car ownership is seen as almost a right, people will not report impairment in case they lose their licence..

In a recent case in Hull/East Yorkshire, a diabetic driver who was going hypoglycemic and had vision impairment pulled out in front of 2 motorcyclists, killing them, has had his case dismissed due to him medical conditions with the judge asking why his licence hadn't been revoked. Surely the Judge shou;ld have been aware that it was the drivers responsibility to report that he was unfit to drive. In this case the motorcyclists families did not receive justice.

https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/double-dea...

I think overall it's best for medical professionals to not have a responsibility for reporting conditions as that can provide a disincentive for drivers to seek healthcare. The responsibility should rest with the driver along with any temporary conditions such as tiredness or being drunk. If the driver knows about their medical condition, then it's up to the judge to sentence them for knowingly endangering others with their driving and certainly be prosecuted for killing people.

The problem is that we have insufficient road policing resources and that's backed up by a barely functional court system that routinely lets off drivers and doesn't enforce accountability. We should keep the onus for safe driving on the driver (they have the most relevant information about their state of mind and abilities) and ensure that the police can easily catch and deal with drivers that should not be on the road.

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lonpfrb replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:

I think overall it's best for medical professionals to not have a responsibility for reporting conditions as that can provide a disincentive for drivers to seek healthcare. The responsibility should rest with the driver along with any temporary conditions such as tiredness or being drunk. If the driver knows about their medical condition, then it's up to the judge to sentence them for knowingly endangering others with their driving and certainly be prosecuted for killing people.

No, the responsibility for public safety should make reporting those unfit to dive a (competent) medical one because other road users safety matters.
The ability of patients to seek treatment and if appropriate accept that they are no longer fit to drive is their choice.
They have no right to put others at risk due to their own permanent condition.

It's not in the interest of the NHS to enable avoidable trauma.

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chrisonabike replied to lonpfrb | 10 months ago
2 likes

Normally I'm all about "stop it before it can become an issue" (hence separate cycle infra).

However in a previous debate on this I made a comment like yours but it was pointed out that this is actually not simple at all.  (Certainly not without some pretty drastic legal changes).  IIRC it has been found in practice that people withdraw from the medical system if they think this will have negative impacts to other things they value.  Then a) we're likely to ensure we have negative impacts on lots of people and b) we then really don't know what we don't know e.g. could that person continue driving a bit more (with treatment), or would they now be classified legally blind etc.

I'd like to think there is a better solution than we currently have but it seems like "it's complicated".

Agree with ktache on this one though - now the worst has come to pass and we know for certain, there should be a lifetime ban.

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iandusud replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
4 likes

How about a legal obligation for a doctor to inform the patient if they have a condition which means they should not drive (this may already be the case), and then a legal obligation for the patient to self declare themself unfit to drive. Of course this wouldn't stop them from continuing to drive but at least it would and should give the courts the power to impose sentences that reflect this, starting of course with a lifetime driving ban. 

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hawkinspeter replied to lonpfrb | 10 months ago
0 likes

lonpfrb wrote:

No, the responsibility for public safety should make reporting those unfit to dive a (competent) medical one because other road users safety matters.

The ability of patients to seek treatment and if appropriate accept that they are no longer fit to drive is their choice.

They have no right to put others at risk due to their own permanent condition.

It's not in the interest of the NHS to enable avoidable trauma.

In principle, I'd like for all drivers to pass some kind of medical check-up, but I doubt that we have the spare NHS resources for that at the moment.

Practically though, it's a question of numbers. The total number of RTCs caused by medical issues is pretty small (don't know the stats though), and dissuading people from using medical services can easily lead to late diagnosis of serious medical issues which will likely use up far more NHS reources than the avoidable trauma of RTCs. We're better off not putting additional stress on medical professionals and instead let them focus on just treating the patients in front of them.

The problem we currently have is that poor driving can go unchecked for so long due to the lack of traffic police and suitable enforcement. We should be focussing on the fixing the failings of traffic law enforcement rather than changing the role of medical professionals.

Ultimately, public safety should be the responsibility of the police with doctors concentrating on individuals' health.

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Midgex replied to Gus T | 10 months ago
1 like

Not taken away, never existed.

An exception is in egregious cases, such as an HGV driver who is clearly unfit, is told so, and makes it clear that he will conceal this from the DVLA and continue to drive.

Doctors are quite busy, thank you.

 

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
5 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

As people can be disqualified from driving due to medical issues, maybe there needs to be some standard of responsibility and care towards others. Permanently revoke the license of people that have demonstrated that they don't have the emotional maturity to drive in much the same way that someone without sufficient visual acuity is not allowed to drive.

This sounds like a terrible false equivalence - steering close to confounding e.g. medical issues with "moral failings". I hope I'm not just failing to see your point clearly though.

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mattw replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
3 likes

I tend to disagree, though I don't go as far as hawkinspeter.

It's a requirement on diabetic drivers that we are aware of our condition, and that we maintain our fitness to drive - by testing and requiring hypo-awareness - when we are driving.

Questions about hypo-awareness (which can be lost) and 'have you had a hypo episode requiring 3rd party assistance' are on the 3 yearly medical renewal form.

The responsibility to maintain fitness to drive belongs to the diabetic.

The charge should not have been dismissed on those grounds.

The issue is perhaps self-certification of medical condition, which is the system. Exactly the same problem as elderly people self-certifying their eyesight to keep their licences when they are as blind as a bat.

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chrisonabike replied to mattw | 10 months ago
2 likes

Jokes about Dominic Cummings aside - it's a tricky one.  As others have pointed out making this a responsibility of doctors carries the risk of people avoiding medical tests or even treatment - which is definitely not what we want.

There is the sliding scale of "danger to others from operating a vehicle on certain medications / with certain conditions".

However people can fail to understand the potential consequences or lack insight into their conditions.  Or just not want to know.

By the time we get to the courts of course some bad thing has already happened to someone else. Presumably this is where the medical experts come in in court (if they have been called for)?

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andystow replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
3 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

However people can fail to understand the potential consequences or lack insight into their conditions.  Or just not want to know.

Because driving is a "normal" activity, like climbing stairs or boiling a kettle, either of which could have disastrous consequences (at least for the person) if they had a medical episode while doing them.

Somewhere, maybe on here, was a story of someone driving very impaired who was on a prescription drug that had a warning of "DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY." Their response was along the lines of "but I wasn't operating heavy machinery, I was just driving."

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hawkinspeter replied to andystow | 10 months ago
4 likes

andystow wrote:

Because driving is a "normal" activity, like climbing stairs or boiling a kettle, either of which could have disastrous consequences (at least for the person) if they had a medical episode while doing them.

Somewhere, maybe on here, was a story of someone driving very impaired who was on a prescription drug that had a warning of "DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY." Their response was along the lines of "but I wasn't operating heavy machinery, I was just driving."

Seems to me that an easy test for whether machinery is "heavy" or not is to ask the person to lift it.

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lonpfrb replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
0 likes
chrisonatrike wrote:

By the time we get to the courts of course some bad thing has already happened to someone else.

Unacceptable when the trauma was avoidable by reporting and subsequent mitigation.
Avoidance is preferable to Enforcement and Punishment.
Dead people can't be revived by a judge.

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Andrewbanshee replied to mattw | 10 months ago
1 like

I am type 1 diabetic. I have to test before Drive and for long journeys stop and test.
I have to apply for my licence every 3 years.
They have a right to contact my GP and specialist to review my ability. The GP is duty bound to inform dvla if I am unfit to drive.

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brooksby replied to Andrewbanshee | 10 months ago
1 like

https://www.gov.uk/driving-medical-conditions

Quote:

You must tell DVLA if you have a driving licence and:

  • you develop a ‘notifiable’ medical condition or disability
  • a condition or disability has got worse since you got your licence

Notifiable conditions are anything that could affect your ability to drive safely. They can include: ...

My emphasis.

I think that, as others have said, it would be good to also put some of the responsibility onto the GP or hospital once a diagnosis is made rather than relying upon the person who's ill to self-report.

Look at all these cases where someone has begged not to lose their licence because it will impact upon their lifestyle, and then think about how many people you all know who, when asked if they are ill, reply, "No, I'm fine", and wonder how many people have a condition which affects their driving but either they don't think it's serious enough - "I'm fine" - or else they'll gamble that it'll all be fine and it won't impact their driving.

 

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hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
1 like

chrisonatrike wrote:

hawkinspeter wrote:

As people can be disqualified from driving due to medical issues, maybe there needs to be some standard of responsibility and care towards others. Permanently revoke the license of people that have demonstrated that they don't have the emotional maturity to drive in much the same way that someone without sufficient visual acuity is not allowed to drive.

This sounds like a terrible false equivalence - steering close to confounding e.g. medical issues with "moral failings". I hope I'm not just failing to see your point clearly though.

The underlying principle is that the driver is considered capable of safely driving around others. Having a medical condition can compromise that capability and similarly having the degree of self entitlement to not care about injuring others most certainly compromises the ability of a driver. It's not really something that can be judged ahead of time, but can certainly be addressed by the judiciary in driving cases after the event. If someone leaves the scene without rendering assistance, then it's clearly a complete moral failing that should result in revocation of their license or a level of incompetence that they didn't even notice that they'd hit someone which should also result in removing their license.

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Shaun TheDiver | 10 months ago
3 likes

Looking forward to the introduction of tougher laws in Scotland

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-66593086

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