A driver who had been smoking cannabis the night before he killed a cyclist has been spared jail so he can continue to care for his mother, after he admitted causing death by careless driving, an offence that carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.
Darren Maironis, aged 48, died at the Royal Stoke University Hospital on 18 July 2021 from injuries sustained the previous day when Mark Beresford turned right across the path of the cyclist. Maironis was taking part in a time trial, and crashed into the side of Beresford's Ford Transit van.
The victim, a father of three who taught maths at secondary school, was a well-known figure on the time-trial scene in north west England, with his Velotik racing team among those to pay tribute to him after his death.
The crash happened at 3.40pm on 17 July 2021 in Goostrey, near Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, at the junction of Chelford Road and Bridge Road, reports the Knutsford Guardian.
Jayne Morris, prosecuting, told Chester Crown Court that Beresford “had been following his mobile phone sat nav system which was in a holder to the right side of the steering wheel.
“The instructions were spoken and on the approach to the junction the defendant was instructed by the satellite navigation system to turn right.
“But travelling in the opposite direction was Darren Maironis who was taking part in a time trial cycle event.
“An eye witness expected the defendant to stop and wait before turning right but he didn't and turned into the path of Mr Maironis.
“In her statement she [the eyewitness] said: ‘I couldn't believe my eyes when it didn't stop, it wasn’t going particularly quickly but it just kept going’.
“She then heard a dull bang and saw debris fly to the right of the van and added, ‘I knew the van must have hit the cyclist but I just couldn’t believe it’.
“The defendant then began to reverse and although she sounded her horn but the defendant’s van struck her car.
“She immediately went to assist Mr Maironis who was lying in the road, seriously injured.
“As she did so she heard the defendant say, ‘I just didn't see him’ and ‘He was coming so fast’.
“He appeared to be in shock and said that he hadn't seen Mr Maironis.
“Police officers arrived at the scene at approximately 4pm to find the defendant was sat on the ground talking to a paramedic.
“He was upset and shaken. He provided a sample of breath and a drug wipe, both of which were negative but police thought he was acting strangely.
“He was lying on the floor, speaking in a childlike manner and his pupils were very small.
“As a result, the officers performed a Preliminary Impairment Test but following his performance, in particular his walk and turn test in which he swayed and began to lose balance on the return steps, the fact that he missed his nose on one of the nose touch tests, failed to bring his hand down as instructed and required lots of prompting they suspected impairment.”
A blood sample taken from Beresford four hours after the crash found that he had 1.7 micrograms of tetrahydocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, per litre of blood in his system, slightly below the legal limit of 2mg.
In mitigation Tom Gent, defending Beresfod, described his client as “a kind-hearted man” who was remorseful about causing the death of Mr Maironis, and said that imposing a custodial sentence on him would mean he would be unable to care for his mother.
“There is not a day goes by when the defendant does not think about the consequences of his actions,” Mr Gent said. “He is truly consumed with remorse and tormented by his feelings of guilt.”
He claimed that Beresford had been blinded by the sun and that he panicked following the fatal crash.
“His own recollection of the aftermath is that he was acutely distressed and extremely emotional,” the lawyer claimed.
“His behaviour at the performance of the various tests can properly be attributed to a reaction to the collision rather than the consumption of cannabis the night before. He did not for one minute believe that he was over the limit.”
Mr Gent added: “His immediate imprisonment will have a harmful effect on others, in particular his elderly mother Sandra for whom he cares and provides for financially.
“He cares for his mother, supports her and supports her financially. They live together under the same roof.
“If an immediate custodial sentence is imposed, she fears she will lose the family home as the mortgage payments will not be made.”
Judge Simon Berkson handed Beresford a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered him to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work.
He told him: “This is properly described as a tragic case in which a 48-year-old man with three children was killed.
“You should have seen him, and you shouldn’t have carried out the manoeuvre when you did.
“There is ample evidence of your considerable remorse, however the guilt and anxiety you are suffering is nothing compared with that of Darren’s family,” the judge 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.