A motorist who struck a cyclist, leaving him for dead, and then continued to drive with a smashed windscreen, before “calmly” boarding a train to London, has been jailed for five and a half years.
Retired headteacher Edward Hinchliffe, a convicted sex offender who was out of prison on licence at the time of the hit-and-run collision, was driving to Didcot Parkway railway station when he crashed into triathlete Simon Chesher on the A417 Reading Road, near Wantage, on 2 August 2020, the Oxford Mail reports.
Mr Chesher, who was out on a Sunday morning ride with a friend, died in hospital a month later from head injuries sustained in the crash, having never regained consciousness. He was 38.
Following the collision, Hinchliffe, now 77, claims to have panicked and kept driving when his “fight or flight” instinct kicked in.
Despite heavy damage to his windscreen – so severe that other motorists said that it looked like it had been “shot” – Hinchliffe carried on driving to the station and, according to one witness, drove through a red light before repeatedly hitting the kerb in Didcot.
After taking a train to Paddington, he was arrested later that afternoon at a friend’s house in North London.
At Oxford Crown Court yesterday afternoon, Hincliffe was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving and driving dangerously after the collision. He was sentenced to five and a half years in prison and banned from driving for seven years and nine months.
“Any humanity that you had evaporated and you calmly went on your way to London as if nothing had happened. Dreadful, dreadful behaviour,” Judge Michael Gledhill KC said during sentencing.
“Any decent person would have immediately stopped and offered what assistance they could. You did not.”
During the trial, it emerged that the motorist was out of prison on licence at the time of the hit-and-run incident, after being handed in 2008 an indefinite sentence for public protection (a now abolished sentence intended for offenders considered “dangerous”) related to sex offences, when a decorator found indecent images in a cupboard at his home.
He was ordered at the time to spend eight months in prison, and has since served further time in custody after being convicted of other offences.
In court this week, Hinchliffe requested to be allowed to say a few words to demonstrate the “sort of person I am”.
“I am deeply affected by what happened and I can’t even begin to think of the upset and the grief that was caused by the accident to the family behind me,” he said.
Following the jury’s verdict, Mr Chesher’s mother, in a victim personal statement, told the court that her family’s life had been damaged “beyond repair” and that her faith in humanity was “severely dented”.
She added that they were “incredibly proud” of their son and “miss him terribly”.
Pamela Stokell, who was riding with Mr Chesher on the morning of the crash, said she experiences a persistent “sense of guilt” and has since developed a fear of driving.
Addressing the cyclist’s family and friends in the gallery, Judge Gledhill said: “Mr Chesher was a decent, hardworking, family man and when he went out on this Sunday morning for a ride with his friend.
“That should have been a pleasant day, his great hobby being cycling, and it was a perfect day to go out on his bike with his friend. It ended in utter tragedy.
“I can’t do anything by way of sentence to bring him back, much as I’d dearly like to assist. I can’t do anything to help any of you.
“All I hope is that the trial that has just taken place and the sentence I am about to impose will close this dreadful chapter in all of your lives and you will be able to begin to move on.”
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.