A drunk and drugged driver who admitted killing a cyclist has been sent to prison for seven and a half years, the length of the sentence reflecting tougher laws introduced last year for dangerous drivers involved in fatal crashes.
Paul Watson, aged 39 and from Normanton, pleaded guilty to causing the death by dangerous driving of 53-year-old cyclist Terrance Keye when he crashed into him as he drove his Ford Transit van on Wakefield Road, Normanton, on Friday 10 February this year.
Watson, from Normanton, who was also banned from driving for 10 years when he appeared at Leeds Crown Court today, had also admitted driving while over the limit for both drink and drugs, says West Yorkshire Police.
Mr Keye had been riding his bike home from work when Watson, who was travelling at a speed of 55mph and was found to be 1.5 times over the legal limit for alcohol and twice the specified limit for cocaine, crashed into him while driving his van on the wrong side of the road.
Detective Constable Simon Marshall of the Major Collision Enquiry Team, said “Terrance was cycling home that evening, he was wearing reflective clothing and had lights on his bike. He did everything right.
“Watson, on the other hand, did everything wrong. He chose to drive whilst over the alcohol limit, he chose to drive whilst over the drug drive limit and he chose to drive dangerously. Terrance wasn’t able to make any choices."
In a victim impact statement read out to the court, Mr Keye’s mother said: “On the night of 10 February, two police officers came to my door to tell me that my only son, Terry had been killed.
“That night my life stopped,” she continued.
“I will never hear his key in my door again and saying ‘Mother, it’s only me’. No one will ever know the devastation and grief I am feeling every minute, every hour of every day and night,” Mr Keye’s mother added.
For offences committed on or after 28 June 2022, the maximum penalty for people convicted of causing death by dangerous driving is life imprisonment, compared to a maximum jail sentence of 14 years previously.
Conviction also results in an automatic disqualification from driving of at least five years, with an extended retest required should the offender wish to regain their licence once the ban has expired.
While there are widespread inconsistencies in punishment when it comes to motorists convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, the sentence handed down to Watson, following as it did a guilty plea which usually has the effect of lessening the term of imprisonment imposed, may be a signal that with the change in law, the courts will get tougher on drivers who kill.
Certainly, for offences committed before the law was changed for offences committed since late June last year, we have seen motorists convicted of causing death by dangerous driving receive lower jail terms and even non-custodial sentences.
Sergeant Mick Kilburn of West Yorkshire Police said: “Watson is the first person in West Yorkshire to be dealt with under the new sentencing guidelines that came into effect in June 2022.
“He was previously of good character having never been arrested before. We welcome the lengthy sentence and hope that this sends a message out that dangerous, and drink or drug driving will be dealt with seriously.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the officers who worked tirelessly in the days following this collision, making sure that Watson was no longer a danger to the public. Their hard work and dedication has resulted in a selfish and dangerous driver being imprisoned for a significant period of time.
“I would also like to pay tribute to Terrance’s family, who have had to deal with this devastating incident. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time, and I hope that today will allow them some closure on a tragic, yet avoidable, incident,” he added.
Simon joined road.cc 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.