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A van driver who had been using his mobile phone while driving, and had been behind the wheel for 17 hours, has been jailed for three years following an accident which killed a Derby City Council worker.

The 28-year-old was also found to be speeding at the time of the collision which sent his victim flying into a hedgerow on the A50 near Derby.

Prosecuting, James Moore told the court that the cyclist was one of 16 members of a cycling club who were taking part in a time trial at the time of the accident – around 7.50pm on June 15, 2017.

Derby Crown Court heard that the driver had been putting in long hours due to being on a zero-hours contract, had started work at 3am that day and had driven 600 miles.

Mr Moore went on to explain that the driver had been on the phone to a friend for 30 minutes at the time of the accident, but it was not possible to say whether he had been using a hands-free device when he hit the cyclist at 69mph.

The man had a previous conviction for driving without due care and attention, failing to stop following an accident, failing to report an accident, and driving while using a mobile phone. He had 11 points on his license and had been given a six-month ban.

“[The victim] was a regular and experienced rider and, very sadly, as a result of the collision he was projected between 35m and 40m into hedgerow at the side of the road and suffered fatal injuries,” explained Mr Moore.

“The visibility was excellent, the weather conditions were dry and the road was light with traffic.

“There were no defects on Mr Barnes’ vehicle that would have contributed to the cause of the collision.

“One witness who was behind the vehicle being driven by Mr Barnes, importantly, described how he did not swerve or brake and following the collision he continued on as though he was unaware a collision had taken place.”

The driver did finally pull over nearly a mile after the crash, with witnesses at the scene describing him as “visibly upset”.

Mr Moore said: “He started work that day at 3am and had driven in excess of 600 miles.

“He would have been suffering significant elements of fatigue.

“Evidence also shows he had been talking to a friend on his mobile phone for 32 minutes and that call ended five seconds after the collision.

“In summary, we say he did not divert from his course, he clearly did not see [the victim], but he should have.”

Mitigating, Nicholas Syfret told the court that his client was a father to two children aged nine and six. He described him as “a responsible and doting father whose family were very much the centre of his life.”

“It is very hard for those who are the victims of a person’s criminal behaviour to appreciate that person can be a very nice, very decent, human being.

“Why did this accident happen?

“The only rational explanation is that he did not see the cyclist.

“He should have done, others did.”

Judge Shaun Smith QC said: “There is no price on human life, there never can be. I have heard how [the victim] was a good man, a popular man who, along with his wife, lived an active life and who made a positive contribution to society.

“Tragically, he died as a result of the way you drove on that day which was way below an acceptable standard.

“Other drivers had no problem negotiating him and the other cyclists who were taking part in a time trial that day. You, however, did not swerve and did not deviate from your path when you struck him.”

The driver, from Kings Lynn, Norfolk, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was sentenced to three years in prison.

About Freeman & Co.

Freeman & Co. are a specialist firm of road traffic and criminal defence solicitors based in Manchester but with nationwide coverage.

Freeman & Co. specialise in a wide variety of road traffic cases, ranging from drink driving, speeding and mobile phone offences, to name but a few.

The firm was created by Nick Freeman, who has been dubbed “Mr Loophole” by the press for his technical legal ability and robustly challenging the prosecution.

Nick is well regarded as an expert road traffic lawyer and has successfully represented many high profile clients for a variety of motoring offences as well as criminal offences.

The firm of Freeman & Co. embodies the way Nick works, with minute attention to detail and challenging the prosecution at every turn.

If you are facing a road traffic matter or criminal offence and need the services of Freeman & Co. please call on 0161 236 7007.

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