- Daily Telegraph)
6 SEPTEMBER 2016 • 12:59 AM
A van driver with eight previous convictions for using his phone at the wheel killed a cyclist after reading a text message, just weeks after magistrates let him keep his licence.
Christopher Gard, 30, was jailed for nine years after he ploughed into keen cyclist Lee Martin, 48, who was competing in a ten mile time trial event.
Gard struck Mr Martin at 65mph, then later took a “deliberate and calculated” action in deleting three messages from his mobile phone to hide the fact he was using it, Winchester Crown Court, heard.
The driver accepted he had read the message, but claimed that the collision itself happened because he was distracted by his young son.
The crash, on August 12 last year on the A31 dual carriageway near Bentley, Hants, happened just six weeks after Gard, of Alton, Hants, was allowed to keep his licence.
He had twice attended driving awareness courses and was given fixed penalty notices five times since April 2009 for using his phone while driving.
When convicted on 30 June last year he pleaded with magistrates to keep his licence claiming it would cause “excessive harm” to his family and promising to lock his phone in the boot of his van while driving.
Mr Martin’s brother Darrell, 47, said the magistrates had “failed my brother and failed my family by giving out such a light punishment”.
Reading his victim impact statement in court, he said: “To find out my brother lost his life to someone who had been convicted eight times for using his mobile phone while driving makes the whole thing much worse, so much more senseless and so much more avoidable.
“I think a death was inevitable. Only six weeks before the event he was pleading before magistrates.”