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.
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.
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.