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Driver who was using WhatsApp when she killed cyclist jailed for 30 months

Fatal crash happened in Hertfordshire during first lockdown last year

A driver w​ho was using WhatsApp when she crashed into and killed a cyclist has been jailed for 30 months.

Paige Blake, aged 24, had been talking to her sister through the smartphone app when the fatal crash happened on the A414 near Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, on 20 April last year.

The victim, 80-year-old Hertford resident Freddie Oborne, who competed regularly in cycling events and triathlons, died at the scene reports the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

Blake, from Hertford, pleaded guilty at St Alban’s Crown Court yesterday to causing death by dangerous driving.

Besides handing down a prison sentence, Judge Michael Kay also banned Blake, who is heavily pregnant, from driving for four years and three months.

Caroline Oborne told the Welwyn Hatfield Times that she and her sister had both suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder in the year following their father’s death.

Reflecting on the jail term given to Blake, she said: “It's never going to bring my dad back.

“Whether it had been two months, five years or 10 years. It will never bring my dad back, but at least I hope people will reflect when they pick up their mobile phone, or Facetime while driving at a speed.

“Don't do it, Don't do it because this is what happens.

“Too many people get killed on bikes at the moment by people being reckless,” she added.

It was one of 15 cyclist fatalities road.cc identified as having happened during the first month of the first national lockdown last year, which began in late March.

> 15 cyclists killed on UK roads in first month of lockdown

As we noted at the time, that was an unusually high number for the time of year despite motor traffic being well below pre-pandemic levels as people heeded government instructions to stay at home.

The same period also saw a big rise in the number of cyclists on the roads, however, due to key workers  taking to two wheels to get to work while avoiding public transport as well as people getting on their bikes to take their permitted daily exercise.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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