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Eight-year sentence for drink driver who killed cyclist after emptying vodka bottle

Matthew Clemo was more than two times over the legal alcohol limit, and police described him as being so drunk he was unable to stand up on his own

A drink driver who killed a cyclist and only stopped when he crashed into another vehicle has been sentenced to eight years imprisonment at Cardiff Crown Court.

Matthew Clemo, 51, killed Michael Partridge as the 76-year-old grandfather cycled in Bedwas, Caerphilly, on September 25 last year. Despite treatment by paramedics and air ambulance, the cyclist died at the scene having been crushed between Clemo's van and a parked vehicle.

The court heard that Clemo also had low levels of cannabis and painkillers in his system, and had driven from work in Bristol, Wales Online reports. The drink driver later registered 96μg of alcohol per 100ml of breath (legal limit is 35μg), and police found an empty vodka bottle in his van.

Officers also reported Clemo had been so drunk he was unable to stand up without assistance, and said he had no recollection of the collision under interview.

The defendant pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, prompting Judge Nicola Saffman to sentence him to eight years imprisonment, half of which is to be served in custody, and disqualify him from driving for 12 years.

Clemo crashed his Ford Transit van into a parked car but continued driving and soon after collided with the cyclist. Despite the second collision, the alcohol-fuelled motorist continued driving and hit more parked cars, only stopping once his airbags deployed.

The sentencing hearing heard that Clemo had drifted onto the wrong side of the road on the busy residential street, Pandy Road, and was slightly over the 30mph speed limit when he hit Mr Partridge.

Clemo had 25 previous convictions, with 26 driving offences, including dangerous driving, vehicle taking and driving with excess alcohol. In defence, Jeffrey Jones said Clemo was an alcoholic who had been feeling "low" about work.

The court also heard that since conviction, Clemo has divorced his wife and moved away from her and their 10-year-old son. Mr Jones said the drink driver is "remorseful and upset" and resigned from his job.

However, Judge Saffman said: "Mr Partridge was a 76-year-old retired gentleman who worked hard all his life in the steelworks. He was a beloved husband, father and grandfather and his family have been severely impacted."

A statement from Mr Partridge's family after the incident said: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Michael Vernon Partridge, our beloved husband, father and grandfather, who died on Saturday, September 25. He was taken from us too early in tragic circumstances doing what he loved. Dedicated to his family, he loved his time with his grandchildren, often playing and teasing them into fits of laughter.

"He was also a devoted husband who loved the harbour in Weymouth, watching boats and listening to the ocean waves with wife Pamela. A former Llanwern steelworker, painter and decorator, he was a man who worked hard and loved life. His other passions were music – he was involved with Aber Valley Male Voice Choir for many years and until recently Caerphilly Male Voice Choir – and rugby, where he volunteered and was a committee member with Bedwas Rugby Club."

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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21 comments

Avatar
NOtotheEU | 2 years ago
10 likes

Mr Jones said the drink driver is "remorseful and upset" . . . . . . that he got caught yet again, that this might impinge on his life in the future and that the world now knows what a selfish, murderous p***k he is.

 

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OldRidgeback replied to NOtotheEU | 2 years ago
4 likes

Going by his record I doubt a ban would've stopped him from driving. With people like this, they often don't stop driving until something really serious happens, like a fatality.

My condolences go to the family of his victim.

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swldxer | 2 years ago
3 likes

It's μg in breath, not "mg" - you're a 1000 times out. .

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John Stevenson replied to swldxer | 2 years ago
2 likes

Good spot, thanks - fixed.

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Wingguy replied to John Stevenson | 2 years ago
3 likes

To be honest I find it really annoying when the press in general quotes 'x times over the limit' because those figures come from his BAC when he is tested at the police station (or hospital?) which could be hours and hours and hours later. 
 

Like in this case - a long time alcoholic too drunk to stand unassisted and we're saying he's only 2 times over the limit? It's absurd. When he was actually driving he would have been far worse, 5, 6, 7 times or more. 

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Runningwolf | 2 years ago
12 likes

This is really close to me as it happend near my home town of Caerphilly.  I remember the roads being closed down because of it.  The point I would like to make is just when are people going to realise vehicles can, and do kill other people.  No sentence given to the driver will bring back the cyclist killed.  The family of  Mr Partridge have lost a husband, father and grandfather, and for what.  Because someone thought it would be fine to drive a vehicle whilst drunk.  But as too often we see, its not fine,  when people get behind the wheel of a vehicle, or any mode of transport for that matter they have a duty of care towards other road users and need to take responsibility, and try to use the roads as safely as possible. A very sad society we all live in when people just dont get that.

 I send my my sincere condolences and best wishes to Mr Partridges famly, and hope that they can find peace for their loss.

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cbrndc replied to Runningwolf | 2 years ago
0 likes

"vehicles can and do kill people", no! Drivers can and do kill people.

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Grahamd replied to cbrndc | 2 years ago
4 likes

cbrndc wrote:

"vehicles can and do kill people", no! Drivers can and do kill people.

Not technically correct. My wife is currently dealing with a car insurance claim after her car was badly damaged after an unoccupied car crashed into her last week. Take away delivery driver had left car running and hand brake failed. Young cyclist behind her would have been flattened and the Police couldn't give a fcuk. Even bigger insult is that he is not accepting liability as he wasn't in the car. You couldn't make it up.

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brooksby | 2 years ago
3 likes

"had driven from work in Bristol" 

So that bloke must have driven on the motorway in that state, too...

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OnYerBike replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
3 likes

Given a bottle of vodka was found in his van, we don't know exactly what point on his journey he consumed the vodka. I'm not trying to defend the guy, but it's not evident that he "must" have driven on the motorway in quite that state (albeit likely not in a fit state to drive at any point).

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jh2727 replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
0 likes

brooksby wrote:

"had driven from work in Bristol" 

So that bloke must have driven on the motorway in that state, too...

You say that like it is worse than driving on residential road at (slightly over) 30mph in that state.

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brooksby replied to jh2727 | 2 years ago
1 like

I had just meant that it's not like he was on his way back from the pub...  He'd done quite a trek.

 

And although OnYerBike has a point, I would have thought that his alcohol measure would be a LOT higher if he had only just necked that bottle of vodka, hence why I wondered if he had it in his cup holder all the way from Bristol (sorry, I watch a lot of Police Traffic Interceptor Cops 24/7...).

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ktache replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
0 likes

Wrong'uns.

Only police interceptors always plays the game of "how many times over the limit are they".

Did you manage to see Monday's traffic cops, that rat arsed woman in the range rover, she had tried to drive away on 3 wheels?

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AidanR | 2 years ago
8 likes

How was this man still allowed behind the wheel? We need to stop treating driving as a right, and start treating it as a privilege.

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eburtthebike | 2 years ago
12 likes

"Clemo had 25 previous convictions, with 26 driving offences, including dangerous driving, vehicle taking and driving with excess alcohol."

Neatly summing up what is wrong with our ridiculously mis-named justice system.  Anyone with a record that bad should never have been allowed to drive again, let alone driving for their job.  If they were caught that many times, how many times had they actually broken the law?  Judging by what many motorists get away with, it must have been thousands.

I'd suggest that if you've been convicted five times for driving offences, it is clear that you are a serial offender who is unable to control themself so the ability to re-offend should be removed forever.

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festina replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago
4 likes

Completely agree. At what point does the justice system say that punishment is not working you're not allowed behind a wheel ever again? 26 driving offences?! The previous judge should be held negligent in causing this persons death.

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Tjhuert | 2 years ago
5 likes

Just don't get it....how is that not pre meditated? That should be life...end of

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Hirsute replied to Tjhuert | 2 years ago
10 likes

Didn't even get a maximum sentence despite 25 previous convictions including dangerous driving, vehicle taking and driving with excess alcohol.

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chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
1 like

True - maximum with guilty plea would have been 9 1/3 years as you get 1/3 off.  I think the sentence he got was rather stiff as they go because normally you have to declare to witnesses in advance that you intend to kill people with your car and / or kill multiple people, ideally pedestrians on the pavement just to remove ambiguity.

Never mind though, 4 years before he's driving again. What's that you say?  He'll put several decades of multiple addictions and not giving a rat's backside behind him and emerge a changed man?

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brooksby replied to Tjhuert | 2 years ago
1 like

Unfortunately, it isn't premeditated because he (presumably?) didn't actually intend to kill anyone.  He just thought, like so many people who have downed a bottle of vodka, that he was fine, just needed to open the windows and get some fresh air etc etc.  To any rational person, trying to drive in that state is utterly insane, but that far into your cups, you are not rational...

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Carior replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
5 likes

It doesn't necessarily need to be pre-meditated.  We have the principle of oblique intent which is broadly as follows:

The criminal law doctrine of oblique intent was developed at common law to deal with situations in which the agent acted without purpose or desire but where the harmful result of his conduct was foreseen at a very high probability.

Whilst not necessarily specifically aimed at driving offences, it does strike me that, this could be used more in this context.  For example, you drove a car at someone "oh I didn't mean to harm them" - "well you were driving a 1.5T hunk of metal at significant speeds and a 75kg chunk of flesh, what did you think was going to happen?".

I don't think we'll ever use oblique intent in any meaningful way for people using a killing machine reckless to scare/intimidate/whatever vulnerable people (its generally reserved for, "I may have put a bomb in a public place and detonated it but I didn't actually mean to kill anyone" type situations) but it would be nice if our justice thought about ways those principles could be applied to driving offences - alas, there is little desire in doing so.

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