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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.