A nurse who was two and a half times over the drink-driving limit when she hit and killed a teenage cyclist, stopping only to unsnarl his bicycle before continuing her journey to work at the same nursing home where the victim's mother was employed, has been jailed for five years four months.
Heather Butler, aged 67 and from Howden, East Yorkshire, had pleaded guilty at Hull Crown Court to causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink, failure to report an accident and failure to stop at the scene, reports the Hull Daily Mail.
The court heard how Butler, who was driving to the nursing home in Gilberdyke, hit 15-year-old Sam Brown and his friend, Luke Wheel, also aged 15, as they were cycling on the B1320 at Eastrington on 6 September 2012.
Sam, who was thrown onto the bonnet and windscreen of Butler’s car, suffered fatal head injuries, while Luke’s injuries include a broken shoulder.
However, Butler continued to drive for 200 metres before stopping only to remove the youngster’s bicycle, which had become tangled up with her car, before continuing her journey.
One driver, Nicholas Webb, who was in a car following Butler, said in a statement read out to the court that he believed she was either drunk or using a mobile phone due to the manner of her driving, and that he had turned round to go back to the scene of the crash.
"I did a U-turn and returned to the scene," he explained. "I spoke to Luke and was unaware of the second cyclist until I saw Sam Brown on grass.
"Other drivers stopped and there were attempts to revive him."
Despite their efforts, Luke would die of his injuries in hospital.
Butler informed colleagues when she arrived at work that she believed she had struck a cyclist. One said that she appeared unsteady and that alcohol could be smelt on her breath. Two members of staff immediately went to the scene where they found motorists trying in vain to give first aid to Sam.
Paul Genney, speaking on behalf of Butler, said: "She appreciates she should never have driven that night.
"She was in a state of shock and wanted to get to work to report what had happened.
"It is a particularly hazardous stretch of road. She would have had about two seconds to react.
"She hasn't driven since and doesn't even want to be a passenger in a vehicle after what happened."
Sentencing Butler, Judge Mark Bury said: “It was obvious to you, as it would have been obvious to any driver, that you had collided with Sam Brown.
“You drove for over 200 metres with his bicycle attached to your car and when you stopped some way up the road, you detached it and left it at the side of the road.
“You did not, as a nurse, go back to try to assist the person that you knew full well you had knocked down. As it turns out you would not have been able to assist.”
In a statement, Sam's mother Tracey Brown said that the family's grief meant had led them to consider moving home.
"Whatever the sentence, it won't be enough," she said. "For me, the pain is unbearable.
"There are days when I wish I wasn't here.
"Each passing day is harder.
"I cannot eat and I am finding it difficult to sleep."
The severity of the sentence is likely to be linked to the level of alcohol Butler had consumed and aggravating factors including her failure to stop and the fact that as well as the incident resulting in Sam’s death, it also caused serious injuries to Luke.
The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s Get Britain Cycling report, published tomorrow, is expected to urge the government to get tougher on sentencing in cases in which cyclists are the victims, also the subject of a campaign launched last year by British Cycling and CTC, among others.
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.