Community sentence for distracted death crash driver
A Bath motorist at the wheel of a car which drove into the back of a bike, killing the cyclist, has been given a community sentence at court.
Driver Kylee Powell, who had passed her test just weeks earlier, had her husband and three of her four children in the car when she collided with cyclist Sarah Hayward last summer.
The 27-year-old’s Ford Focus did not deviate around the cyclist on the wide single carriageway section of the A4 as she drove towards Box from Bath.
But after hearing the smash happened during a ‘momentary lapse of concentration’ as she was distracted by her husband speaking to her, a judge imposed a community order.
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Hannah Squire, prosecuting, told Swindon crown court that keep fit enthusiast Mrs Hayward had gone out on her bike after work on Wednesday August 19 last year.
She left home on the edge of Box saying ‘see you later’ to husband Pete, 31, who was looking after their one-year-old son Harry, and set out on a one-hour circuit of the village.
But shortly after 7pm, as she passed the Nissan dealership, she was struck by the car which was taking the Powell family to Chippenham to buy food.
The front passenger side wing of the Ford Focus hit the gear mechanism on the rear wheel, sending the rider over the top of the car.
Although she was rushed to the Royal United Hospital in Bath, she suffered major head injuries and she died with her husband at her side.
Miss Squire said there had been no braking before the collision and CCTV from the dealership showed neither car nor bike had deviated in the moments before the impact.
She said the road was long and straight and the driver would have had the bike in her vision for more than 20 seconds before the impact.
Powell’s husband Mark told police he had been telling his wife a car he was interested in had gone from the forecourt at the Nissan garage.
When the police arrived at the scene, Powell told them the cyclist had swerved out in front of her at the last minute, which the camera footage showed was not the case.
When she was interviewed the following day after being arrested she replied ‘no comment’ to questions.
The court heard Mrs Hayward had married her husband, a teacher, three years earlier and their son was approaching his second birthday when she died.
In an emotional victim personal statement, he said he felt ‘lost and lonely’ without his wife and that ‘life seems to have lost its purpose’.
It said: ‘My little boy has lost his mummy just before his second birthday. He will probably never remember her’.
Powell, of Holcombe Vale, Bathampton, pleaded guilty to a charge of causing death by careless driving.
Matthew Hardyman, defending, said his client, a mother of four, had been left devastated by what had happened and was now on anti-depressants.
At the time of the collision he said she had been distracted by her husband who had been talking to her.
“It was a momentary lapse of concentration: a distraction from her husband in the passenger seat,” he said.
Passing sentence Judge Euan Ambrose said “This is a tragic, truly tragic case.”
He said: “It seems the most likely cause of this collision was a combination of poor road position, you were too close to the kerb given the fact that you knew there was a cyclist up ahead and it was a wide road, and more important in my judgement, inattention and distraction at the crucial moment.”
The judge imposed a one-year community order with supervision and 150 hours of community service and banned Powell from the road for two years and until she had passed an extended test.
He added: “It goes without saying but nothing that I say and no sentence that I can pass can alter the tragic facts.”