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Drug driver sentenced to 21 months in prison for killing cyclist – seconds after using his phone to text friend

Kornel Marcinek was also driving over the speed limit and without insurance when he fatally struck 33-year-old cyclist Joe Burton from behind

A motorist who fatally struck a cyclist while driving over the prescribed limit of cannabis, without insurance, up to 10mph over the speed limit, and seconds after texting on their phone has been sentenced to 21 months in prison.

25-year-old Kornel Marcinek, who pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving whilst over the specified limit of a controlled drug and causing death whilst uninsured, was also disqualified from driving for two years and ten months after killing 33-year-old cyclist Joe Burton in July 2021.

Marcinek was travelling at around 37 to 40mph in the 30mph zone on Southampton’s Hill Lane when he ploughed into the back of Burton, who had been cycling home from a barbecue at the time of the incident, reports the Southern Daily Echo.

Southampton Crown Court heard that the motorist, who had just recently passed his test, had smoked cannabis earlier that day and, just 21 seconds before hitting the cyclist, had used his phone while driving to text a friend.

> Drugged driver who killed two cyclists jailed for 11 years

Following the collision, Burton was rushed to Southampton General Hospital with severe head injuries, but died the following morning.

On Thursday, prosecutor Edward Warren told the court that, while Burton should have been clearly visible to the driver, the sound of braking was “almost instantaneous with the sound of the collision” and that “no avoiding action was taken until the brakes sounded”.

The court was also told that Marcinek’s fatigue from playing football earlier that day and his inexperience as a driver, combined with his intoxication, contributed to his lack of awareness.

Defending the driver, Tom Wright argued that Marcinek had only shared one cigarette with cannabis in it with a friend on the day of the collision.

Wright said: “He’s a recreational user and doesn’t have a dependence upon the drug. [But] he accepts that it was simply wrong for him to have driven with the drug in his system alone.”

Judge Nicholas Rowland concluded by telling the driver that he “ought to have seen and avoided” Burton, and that “no sentence I can pass will undo that tragedy”.

> Tougher laws on mobile phone use while driving set to take effect

Following the sentencing, Joe’s wife Anna, who he had just married months before, described the cyclist as “an amazing person” who was “loved by everyone he met”.

His mother Christine said that she hopes her son’s death will act as a catalyst to improve conditions on the road for cyclists.

She explained that, according to research she conducted herself, there have been 80 serious incidents involving cyclists in Southampton in recent years, ten of which have proved fatal.

“That is just in one city,” she said. “That is too many. As a nurse and as a carer, I’m very risk averse.

“Talk about them. Do healthy pursuits. [Don’t] take intoxicating substances. If you have got an influence on young people, do not encourage them to take intoxicating substances.

“Think about preventing accidents.”

PC Lucy Hawkins, from Hampshire Constabulary’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, added: “When Marcinek got into his vehicle that evening, knowing he was under the influence of drugs, he had absolutely no regard for the danger he posed to other road users.

“His selfish and thoughtless actions meant the life of a popular, happy and well-respected man was cut short. Joe’s family and friends will now have to live with the catastrophic consequences of this incident for the rest of their lives.

“I hope this case will once again highlight the dangers of driving whilst under the influence of drugs and the responsibility that falls on all drivers to drive their vehicles safely and with regard to all other road users.” 

Ryan joined 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 Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’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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FrankH | 1 year ago

21 months for "driving over the prescribed limit of cannabis, without insurance, up to 10mph over the speed limit, and ... texting on their phone" seems pretty reasonable to me.

What about some punishment for killing somebody?

Griff500 | 1 year ago

Not sure why anybody would think the term "careless" even applies here. This guy made a decision to smoke a joint before driving, he made a decision to drive without insurance, and he made a decision to use his phone. None of that is careless, it is wilful and premeditated disregard for safety and the law.

JimM777 | 1 year ago

The problem I see here is that there seems to be a push to make the penalty for an offence proportionate to the injury caused, whereas the correct approach is that the penalty should be proportionate to the likelihood of causing injury. So, while not condoning careless cycling in any way, the penalty for careless driving of a 1000 kilo machine should be much higher than for the same level of careless driving of a 100 kilo machine, since the likelihood of serious injury and the amount of such is far higher for the former (as shown by the statistics).

steaders1 | 1 year ago

Simply not enough, the judge should be sacked

ooblyboo | 1 year ago

Still, the important thing is that we have tougher sentences for cyclists:

Hirsute replied to ooblyboo | 1 year ago

I just came here to say the same thing.

eburtthebike replied to ooblyboo | 1 year ago

The BBC continue their anti-cycling campaign at every opportunity, and did it again at 0836 on R4; this was my response to them.  Just listening to R4 news at 1000 and it's still headline news.

Dear Today,
you spent five minutes interviewing the husband of the woman killed by a cyclist five years ago, an event so rare that it made national headlines.  Here's a list of how long you've spent talking about the incredible contribution cycling already makes, and could make so much more to these huge problems:

Obesity: 0
Congestion: 0
Physical Health: 0
Mental Health: 0
Cost of Living: 0
Pollution: 0
Climate change: 0
Road Safety: 0
Community cohesion: 0

You didn't even mention the utterly appalling Transport Day at COP26.

I'm so glad you aren't biased.

Rendel Harris replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago

The BBC website this morning has the link headline "Killer cyclists face tougher sentences", something which certainly wouldn't look out of place on the front of the Mail.

Hirsute replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago

I can help you with that

(not going to post the pic though)

eburtthebike replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago

Just been listening to the BBC R4 prog "39 Ways to Save the Planet" and the introduction today intrigued me, saying something like "We've got lots of ways of saving the planet, blah, blah, blah, including cycleways."

No prizes for guessing how many times they have mentioned cycling on this prog.

That's right, one; the introduction today, despite a switch from driving to cycling being far more effective than most, if not all, solutions they actually see fit to broadcast.

brooksby replied to ooblyboo | 1 year ago

I've just come back from the corner shop, where this latest piece of red meat was the headline story on the Daily Mail.

I always think it's odd that there's all this rush to bring in a new law that will be so very rarely used (pedestrians being killed because of the actions of a cyclist is what? Like, one a year?) when all sorts of other things the Govt promises there just isn't the time to deal with it...

I note that Shapps went off on one about red light jumping cyclists, and then they wheeled out Mr Briggs again even though the Briggs case was nothing to do with red lights...

ktache replied to brooksby | 1 year ago

Brigg's killer was prosecuted for manslaughter, which carries a fairly hefty sentence.

I wonder if Shapps (or whatever name he has decided to use) has considered the 85% of drivists that ignore the 20mph limit on our urban streets, when given the opportunity, that are meant to protect us all, going up to 90% at weekends.

Bungle_52 replied to ooblyboo | 1 year ago

The Times headline for this story is : "Cyclists will be prosecuted like drivers for pedestrian deaths." Can we assume they will get off scott free from now on then?

Capercaillie | 1 year ago

Surely the careless, rather than dangerous driving charge must have been a cost-cutting exercise by the CPS to avoid a jury trial. I can't see how even a jury of non-cycling drivers could fail to accept his level of law breaking falls below the standard of a competent driver.

Rik Mayals unde... | 1 year ago

The public should be allowed to appeal this sentence, I'm not sure if we can?

Secret_squirrel replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 1 year ago

Nope only "serious crimes" like murder and manslaughter.  Killing someone with a ton of steel doesn't count apparently. 

nosferatu1001 replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago

You can also appeal kidnapping sentences. 
had this happen to a close family member. 

jamesofyorkshire | 1 year ago

Easiest way to get away with murder is to hit someone with a car. Chances are you'll serve 2 years AT THE MOST.

Runningwolf | 1 year ago

So PC Lewis from Hampshire serious Collisions Unit concludes  “I hope this case will once again highlight the dangers of driving whilst under the influence of drugs and the responsibility that falls on all drivers to drive their vehicles safely and with regard to all other road users.” 

No It won't highlight the dangers at all. Not until the legal system/courts stop treating cyclists that are killed or seriously injured as third rate bits of garbage that are treated worse than dog poo, thats not very pleasant on a hot summers day. Too many cyclists are killed and injured because of idiots driving vehicles.  When the potential consequences of driving  under the influence of drugs or drink or downright dangerous driving dawns on drivers, then maybe just maybe the numbers of cyclists killed and injured will go down. People convicted of these offences in my opinion should be automatically banned from driving for life. If they are caught driving after the ban, then they should go to prison for a minimum of 30 years no iffs no butts.  

ooblyboo | 1 year ago


Intoxicated ✅
Using a phone ✅
Speeding ✅
No insurance ✅
Fatigued ✅

Yeah, sure, that's just carelessness.

Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago

It beggars belief that driving doped up  & texting with with no insurance is considered careless driving.  Should automatically be Dangerous.

the little onion | 1 year ago

And a ban of 2 years and 10 months....... woefully inadequate.

IanMK replied to the little onion | 1 year ago

Honestly, a moron like this probably wouldn't take any notice of ban. There must be a better way to ensure these lowlifes can never drive again. He's certainly going to have to pay a premium for insurance, which of course he won't be able to afford, but of course he doesn't think he needs it.

nosferatu1001 replied to the little onion | 1 year ago
1 like

Sounds like he pled guilty so got s reduction in tariff. 

carlosdsanchez | 1 year ago
nniff replied to carlosdsanchez | 1 year ago

Disappointing.  Of course, no sentence will undo the wrong done, but it might act as a deterrent to others.  He didn't leave many bases uncovered in his wrong-doing. 

I struggle to see how being a 'recreational' user is in any way a mitigation -  I was not aware that breaking laws for recreational purposes was OK.  If I am ever tempted to jump a red light, I should argue that it was for recreational purposes only - QED if I'm riding my bike for recreation.

Secret_squirrel replied to carlosdsanchez | 1 year ago
1 like

Thats my read too.  Should have been 4 years minus 1/3 off for Guilty = 32 months - minimum

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