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Police "appalled" by sentence of driver who ran red light and killed cyclist as he inhaled laughing gas

An active travel campaigner attending the sentencing of Harry Lock, who killed mother-of-three Maria Perez-Gonzalez in Exeter last year, has hit out at the "perverse" sentence and called for Lock to be banned from driving for life...

A driver who killed a cyclist in Exeter after running a red light as he inhaled laughing gas from behind the wheel of his BMW has been sentenced to three years in prison and a driving ban that will see him disqualified for an additional two years following his release. Harry Lock admitted causing the death of Maria Perez-Gonzalez, and an active travel campaigner who attended the sentencing claims police were "appalled" and the family "distraught" by the "perverse" sentence, with an appeal set to be lodged. 

Lock, 24, left an Exeter pub on the evening of 7th August 2021 to return home to Plymouth alongside a passenger in his front seat. Lock stopped his BMW 4 Series briefly to retrieve laughing gas cannisters from his boot, continuing to use it as he drove. 

Despite ignoring requests from his passenger to stop inhaling the substance, Lock continued, and drove through a red light on Western Way in Exeter. It was here that Lock hit 53-year-old Miss Perez-Gonzalez, a mother-of-three, who was attempting to cross the road on her bike. The healthcare assistant died from her injuries two days later. 

In his initial police interview, Lock claimed the traffic light had been green; however, small details from CCTV footage proved that the light was red when Lock drove over the junction, and had been for seven seconds. 

Warning: upsetting content

Miss Perez-Gonzalez's family agreed for footage of the incident (above) to be released, "in the hope it will warn other motorists of the tragic consequences of dangerous driving" according to Devon and Cornwall Police.

Sergeant Troy Bennett, of Devon and Cornwall Police’s Serious Collisions Investigation Team, commented: “Harry Lock’s dangerous actions on the evening of 7 August 2021, where he drove while using nitrous oxide and contravened a red traffic light, had catastrophic and fatal consequences.

“Those tragic consequences are felt by the family of Maria Perez-Gonzalez to this day as they continue to mourn her loss.

“As Lock starts his sentence, he can reflect on his poor choices that evening.

“Driving while impaired is one of the ‘fatal five’ most dangerous driving behaviours that often contribute to fatal or serious road traffic collisions.

“I urge all those who get behind the wheel to ensure they never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and that they drive carefully.”

A statement on behalf of Miss Perez-Gonzalez's children said: “Maria Perez-Gonzalez was a loving, caring mum to Edgar, Chris and Jorge who desperately miss her.

“She was an incredible person who accomplished amazing things in life, who was going to achieve so much more. A year away from reuniting with her oldest son, Edgar, after 20 years. She was a remarkable woman that helped whoever surrounded her.

“She had been through difficult times but always stayed positive, even in the face of the extreme adversity, testament to her strength and courage. She was a health care assistant at the RD&E, just about to embark on university nursing course before she was so cruelly taken.”

Caspar Hughes, an active travel campaigner who attended the sentencing, claims the family were distraught and police officers involved in the investigations were "appalled" by the sentencing, with one arguing that the crime should have been considered a Category A offence. 

Hughes added: "Currently the family and police want to appeal, if they go ahead they’ll lodge an appeal early next week. 

"With regard to the driving ban, [Lock] should be banned for life, to keep the roads safer for us all. But that isn’t possible under our current law.

"This killer driver was judged by a driver, investigated by police who are drivers, the defence lawyer was a driver, the court staff are all drivers. These perverse sentences are delivered by a system dominated by drivers, which isn’t shocking in a world drowning in driver bias.

"We need bench trials with specially trained judges to hear these cases."

Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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45 comments

Avatar
brooksby | 1 month ago
4 likes

Metro carried this story, and their version has the driver steering with his knees while inhaling the gas.

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Bigfoz | 1 month ago
5 likes

A 2 year driving ban? (I assume he won't get much driving, nitrous fuelled or otherwise while in jail...) should be much, much longer. I would support lifetime bans for anyone convicted of dangerous / careless driving. There shou;d be no place on public roads for drivers like this.

Avatar
HLaB replied to Bigfoz | 1 month ago
2 likes

By that the judge is depressingly admiting they'll be out in under a year and a half for any sort of driving ban to kick in  7

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Laz replied to Bigfoz | 4 weeks ago
0 likes

immediate lifetime ban. amen to that.

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Robert Hardy replied to Bigfoz | 4 weeks ago
0 likes

Rather than pissing about with sending refugees to Rwanda we should instead be buying space in North Korean reeducation camps for this piece of s*** to spend the next ten years.

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marmotte27 | 1 month ago
0 likes

Maybe police shouldn't participate in this kind of stich-up elsewhere then...

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dubwise | 1 month ago
1 like
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NotNigel replied to dubwise | 1 month ago
2 likes

Also off topic.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/c1002z9vne3o

'Addressing the message to "all the dads out there" ahead of Father's Day on Sunday, the star of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen stressed the importance of wearing a helmet.'

Avatar
NotNigel replied to NotNigel | 1 month ago
7 likes

Not sure where he wears his helmet.

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brooksby replied to NotNigel | 1 month ago
1 like

NotNigel wrote:

Not sure where he wears his helmet.

I did wonder about that too...

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eburtthebike replied to NotNigel | 1 month ago
2 likes

Great, another celebrity who knows nothing about road safety telling us about road safety.  Stick with cooking Gordon.

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mctrials23 replied to eburtthebike | 1 month ago
2 likes

What? So we shouldn't wear helmets and he wouldn't have been far worse off without it?

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john_smith replied to eburtthebike | 1 month ago
2 likes

Where do you see the problem? He's expressing an opinion. You're free to ignore it. He can't actually force you to make you children wear helmets if you don't want them wear to.

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john_smith replied to NotNigel | 1 month ago
2 likes

Yikes. That looks painful. Will be interesting to see what colour it is in a week or two.

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brooksby replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
7 likes

john_smith wrote:

Yikes. That looks painful. Will be interesting to see what colour it is in a week or two.

Lightly sautéed aubergine?

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bikeman01 | 1 month ago
0 likes

The article says 'his bmw' but was it? He seemed to abandon it like there was no connection to him.

ps. Anyone else noticed that this comment field can't be written into until after the save button is pressed and you get the 'comment field is required' message? 

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Rendel Harris replied to bikeman01 | 1 month ago
3 likes

bikeman01 wrote:

The article says 'his bmw' but was it? He seemed to abandon it like there was no connection to him.

Given the vile piece of shit he undoubtedly is I'd hazard a guess that the way he appears to be running away (in the opposite direction to Ms Perez-Gonzalez, note, didn't even go to check if she was alive or dead) might indicate that he had some idea of claiming to the police that his car had been stolen.

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mdavidford replied to bikeman01 | 1 month ago
1 like

bikeman01 wrote:

ps. Anyone else noticed that this comment field can't be written into until after the save button is pressed and you get the 'comment field is required' message? 

Are you on a Samsung tablet by any chance? I get something similar, although I never tried hitting save - I found that clicking the format dropdown makes it writable.

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brooksby replied to mdavidford | 1 month ago
0 likes

mdavidford wrote:

bikeman01 wrote:

ps. Anyone else noticed that this comment field can't be written into until after the save button is pressed and you get the 'comment field is required' message? 

Are you on a Samsung tablet by any chance? I get something similar, although I never tried hitting save - I found that clicking the format dropdown makes it writable.

It behaves like that on an iPad too.

Avatar
john_smith | 1 month ago
1 like

"This killer driver was judged by a driver, investigated by police who are drivers, the defence lawyer was a driver, the court staff are all drivers. These perverse sentences are delivered by a system dominated by drivers, which isn’t shocking in a world drowning in driver bias."

It isn't shocking, because it's completely irrelevant.

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AidanR replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
8 likes

How so? Killing someone whilst driving a car seems to be accepted to a greater degree than practically any other way of killing.

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john_smith replied to AidanR | 1 month ago
0 likes

What other ways of killing were you thinking of?

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Car Delenda Est replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
3 likes

with a bicycle for example

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fincon1 | 1 month ago
11 likes

And yet our wondeful government (and the opposition) still think it's a good idea to spend their time enacting legislation to ensure that dangerous cyclists face the full force of the law. Where's the equity?

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Mr Anderson | 1 month ago
8 likes

I was right!

"A LORRY driver who knocked down and killed a British inventor and world record-breaking cyclist after being distracted by his mobile phone was fined £500 by a magistrate yesterday.

The widow and relatives of Bruce Bursford, a father of two and the breaker of 10 world cycling records, gasped in court as the level of the fine was announced."

20+ years this was a very common sentence for killing someone due to careless driving.

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dubwise | 1 month ago
9 likes

Words fail.

Matthew Briggs will be a happy man, another scum cyclist off his roads. All hail Briggs, Harper Duncan-Smith, Starmer, etc., etc. The champions of killers.

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Mr Anderson | 1 month ago
11 likes

CyclingMikey has now caught two drivers inhaling gas.  This is in Central London, in broad daylight!

But mikey comments, "the Police are powerless to do anything, as the toxicity dissipates before it can be tested."

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chrisonabike replied to Mr Anderson | 1 month ago
1 like

Hmm... perhaps that explains why people are doing it then?  I thought possession was criminalised now - so presumably if they'd not finished all the cannisters it'd be simple?  (I'm sure lawyers would be able to argue about possession of used "paraphernalia"...)

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Mr Anderson replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
6 likes

Before the law change, there would be hundreds of those small silver cannisters in the road after a weekend.  I often wondered what the scrap value might be?

After the law change I now see these extra large spray cans instead lying everywhere.  I wonder if there is a loophole somewhere?

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stonojnr replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
1 like

admittedly the case was about a crashed car, but there have been Premier league football players accused in court of inhaling laughing gas, prior to then being involved in the crash. But if the police were powerless to do anything about it, why would they have brought it up in the case ? as you wouldnt be able to prove anything about it based on simply someone saw them do it.

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