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Hit-and-run driver who had “alcohol, cocaine and cannabis” in system jailed for 13 years for killing cyclist

The motorist had earlier told the police that “there was nothing dangerous” about his driving at time of fatal crash, and he “didn’t think he hit a cyclist” despite driving a damaged car with a smashed windscreen for five miles

A drink and drugs driver has been jailed for 13 years for killing a cyclist in a hit-and-run crash in West Yorkshire in 2019, with the police saying that his driving was "erratic" and finding "alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis" in his system when they made the arrest, however the driver had claimed that "he didn't think he hit a cyclist" and there was "nothing dangerous" about his driving.

Gregg Marsh, aged 24, was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving by the Leeds Crown Court on Monday, after he killed 53-year-old Shaun Parkin-Coates in a collision at around 6:30am on 21 December 2019. Besides being jailed for 13 years, he has also been banned from driving for 11 years and six months.

Parkin-Coates, who was wearing a hi-vis jacket and had lights on his backpack and bike, was cycling home from work when he was struck from behind by Marsh on the A638 near South Elmsall, Wakefield.

Marsh left the scene and continued driving his badly damaged Ford Fiesta for about 5 miles. He was later arrested at his home near Pontefract and was found to have alcohol and drugs in his system.

Marsh blew two positive alcohol breathalyser tests at the police station, while blood samples showed he was over the limit for THC, the constituent of cannabis, and the metabolite of cocaine.

> Suspected drink and drugs driver who killed cyclist told police “there was nothing dangerous” about his driving at time of fatal crash

Detective Sergeant Paul Lightowler, of the Major Collision Enquiry Team, said: "Shaun was making his way home from work, with just a few days to go before Christmas, when one man’s selfish and reckless actions took away his future. 

"He was wearing reflective clothing and had lights on his bike and backpack and had taken all sensible precautions that we would expect a cyclist to take when travelling at night. 

"Marsh could have accepted responsibility for what he did on the night but instead chose to drive away. He again had the opportunity to accept responsibility for his actions at court but has not done so. Instead, he has maintained that he did not see Shaun and that there were no lights on his bike, a claim at odds with CCTV and eyewitness accounts.

"Before the collision, Marsh had been seen driving erratically and, on his arrest, had alcohol, cocaine and cannabis in his system. His behaviour and manner of driving that night was dangerous and sadly has ultimately resulted in Shaun’s death."

Marsh had admitted driving the car that hit Parkin-Coates, but denied any knowledge that he had struck him, despite driving a further five miles to his home with a badly damaged car and a smashed windscreen.

In recorded police interviews, which were played to the jury during the trial last week, Marsh had described his version of events.

"I heard a bang but I did not see anything," he said. "I did not think I hit a cyclist. I was looking through the windows. There was nothing dangerous about it."

The court also heard that Marsh was found to be over the drink-drive limit following his arrest, although he claimed to officers that he only had "about half a Smirnoff [Ice]". He then later admitted that he drank a small tin of cider before his arrest.

However, as his drink-drive test recorded 43mcgs of alcohol in 100mls of breath – above the 35mcgs legal limit – an expert told the court that if Marsh had only consumed the alcohol which he had claimed, his breath reading should have been close to zero.

> Drink-drug driver who killed cyclist jailed for seven and a half years under tougher sentencing law

Parkin-Coates had been cycling home from a night shift at the Next distribution centre when he was killed in the collision.

From the footage released by West Yorkshire Police of Parkin-Coates moments before the collision, he can be seen wearing a hi-vis jacket and carrying a rucksack on his shoulders, also draped with reflective material and covered with lights, as he gets on his bike equipped with lights. This was also confirmed by the witnesses, and in the words of one onlooker, it was "lit up like a Christmas tree".

Another witness, driving in front of Marsh at the time, also told the court yesterday that the 24-year-old drove so closely behind his car that he "could not see his headlights", and that he was swerving in the road before the crash.

Detective Sergeant Lightowler said he hoped the sentence would "bring some closure" for Parkin-Coates' family and friends who had endured "an absolutely unimaginable few years".

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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18 comments

Avatar
Benthic | 11 months ago
4 likes

Apart from the mechanism of being detained at His Majesty’s pleasure, is it possible to offend so badly that the privilege of having a driving licence is withdrawn permanently?

Avatar
Tom_77 replied to Benthic | 11 months ago
8 likes

Benthic wrote:

Apart from the mechanism of being detained at His Majesty’s pleasure, is it possible to offend so badly that the privilege of having a driving licence is withdrawn permanently?

It's possible, but very rare:

Of the 63,342 driving bans given at court in England and Wales in 2018, only five were lifetime bans (approximately one in 12,500).

ref - https://www.roadpeace.org/roadpeace-calls-for-greater-use-of-lifetime-dr...

This is the sentencing guidelines for driving bans:

In setting the length of any disqualification, sentencers should not disqualify for a period that is longer than necessary and should bear in mind the need for rehabilitation (for example, by considering the effects of disqualification on employment or employment prospects).

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Benthic | 11 months ago
6 likes

Benthic wrote:

Apart from the mechanism of being detained at His Majesty’s pleasure, is it possible to offend so badly that the privilege of having a driving licence is withdrawn permanently?

Only if there is evidence that the offender will be a danger to the public, usually due to a psychiatric problem, if permitted to drive again. Just this year a judge imposed a lifetime ban on an offender with these words:

Quote:

“… you are an absolute menace to other road users. You have been disqualified from driving on at least 24 occasions and you still go on doing it. You take absolutely no notice of these disqualifications that are imposed upon you and we are told also from your record that you have been convicted of driving with excess alcohol some nine times.”

The defendant appealed the ban and the Court of Appeal stated:

Quote:

“…although the Court agrees, without qualification, that this applicant is an absolute menace to other people now, the Court is not convinced that there are such very exceptional circumstances requiring disqualification for life, or that we should conclude that he will be a danger to the public indefinitely. We consider that his contempt for the law is properly marked by the sentence of imprisonment that was imposed but that for a man of only 30, disqualification for life was not an appropriate penalty to impose. This Court will deal with the matter today by quashing the life disqualification and substituting for it a period of disqualification of 10 years running from today.”

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Rendel Harris | 11 months ago
11 likes

It seems strange to me that medical conditions can result in people not ever being able to drive, but even when someone has proven themselves to not have the composure or maturity, they still get to drive.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to hawkinspeter | 11 months ago
10 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

It seems strange to me that medical conditions can result in people not ever being able to drive, but even when someone has proven themselves to not have the composure or maturity, they still get to drive.

Quite, can one imagine any other sphere of life where one was proven time and again not competent to be in charge of lethal machinery in which one would be merely suspended from operating said machinery for a relatively short period? Take the case mentioned above, imagine if instead of a car licence it was a shotgun permit and the person had breached the terms of their permit twenty-four times and been found drunk with a shotgun nine times, would they they allowed a shotgun licence ever again? Of course they wouldn't.

Avatar
cyclisto | 11 months ago
2 likes

The 11 year ban starts after the 13 year jail or simultaneously?

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Fignon's ghost replied to cyclisto | 11 months ago
2 likes

If this nugget hadn't been such a bona-fide arsehole. Would've probably got a far more lenient stretch.

It shouldn't be this way. They should all get banged.

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VIPcyclist replied to cyclisto | 11 months ago
2 likes

Gregg Marsh may get parole. Let's say he serves seven then he has a four year effective ban. Maybe in cases like this : no contrition, no early plee, drugged it's time to ban for life? We all know that reform does not happen in prison and you might take the view that a person who is so reckless when in charge of a vehicle has no business being on the road ever.

Avatar
Tom_77 replied to cyclisto | 11 months ago
11 likes

cyclisto wrote:

The 11 year ban starts after the 13 year jail or simultaneously?

Driving bans used to run concurrently with a prison sentence, they now run consecutively - https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/explanatory-material/magistrates-co...

Avatar
Steve K replied to Tom_77 | 11 months ago
4 likes

Tom_77 wrote:

cyclisto wrote:

The 11 year ban starts after the 13 year jail or simultaneously?

Driving bans used to run concurrently with a prison sentence, they now run consecutively - https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/explanatory-material/magistrates-co...

Thanks.  That's reassuring.  Though I would have thought it would have been simpler and clearer to say the ban starts when the person leaves custody.

Avatar
ymm | 11 months ago
3 likes

Finally some proper justice that will absolutely change the criminal's life, as it rightly should for his appalling crimes. Judges and juries across the UK, sit up and take note.

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ktache | 11 months ago
5 likes

This would appear to be a proper sentence at last.

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Surreyrider replied to ktache | 11 months ago
1 like

Err no.

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andystow replied to ktache | 11 months ago
7 likes

Well, at least within the realm of proper. Not a gentle caress on the wrist.

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essexian replied to ktache | 11 months ago
6 likes

Its better than most but still not sufficient. IMHO, driving away after an accident and not stopping to give aid etc should mean an automatic doubling of the sentence. 

And four years to come to court. Is that a joke? So for four years this "person" was driving around on our roads when he had killed someone. Time for a law change. No one should be able to drive while awaiting a court date for killing someone.

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VIPcyclist replied to essexian | 11 months ago
6 likes

It probably took four years because of the run down nature of the court system, otherwise known as Tory cuts. I can well understand the thought that people should be banned, as a precautionary measure, before appearing in court, but this would be putting the cart before the horse. Perhaps, if things were better funded, suspects could provisionally appear before a magistrate who could make a decision on a ban pending a crown court case?

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WBoy replied to VIPcyclist | 11 months ago
5 likes

The easiest solution would be simply to require temporary licence suspension as a  condition of bail.

Avatar
ktache replied to WBoy | 11 months ago
2 likes

It can occur, but seems shockingly rare.

And I think it was more imposed by magistrate on first appearance.

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