Drink-driver jailed for crash that killed cyclist: Widow attacks 21-month sentence as 'total insult'

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The Independent Online
A DRINK-DRIVER was jailed for 21 months yesterday and disqualified for three years for killing David Adams, aged 42 and the father of four sons.

Martin Clarke, 31, a groundsman from Witney, Oxfordshire, who has a previous conviction for failing to give a breath test, had pleaded guilty at Oxford Crown Court to causing death by careless driving having consumed alcohol over the prescribed limit - a new offence being used for the first time in this case. He was more than three times over the limit.

Mr Adams was cycling home from a supermarket on the evening of 12 December last year when Clarke ran into him from behind.

Judge Allen told Clarke: 'You did not see him primarily because you had had far too much to drink.

'You were not driving fast or driving badly in any way and I bear in mind that you are charged with this new offence and not charged with causing death by reckless driving.'

Clarke's solicitor, Alan Borland, said an appeal would be considered because the hearing had been a test case of a new offence.

Clarke will serve just over 10 months of the sentence in jail because of new procedures. After the hearing, Mrs Adams, 39, said she felt 'totally insulted'.

She said: 'I don't think any sentence would really be appropriate but I can't bear the thought that he is going to be out one day, and that day is going to be sooner than I thought. Ten months. He's going to be out. I keep thinking of all my children. Just one more birthday and he's going to be out.'

Mrs Adams said no sentence would have been long enough but she was expecting Clarke to get the maximum five years for the offence which was introduced by the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act, 1991.

She said the judge should have made an example of Clarke and she criticised the previous sentence Clarke received for a drink-driving offence in 1983 when he was fined pounds 150 and banned for 18 months.

If the law had been tougher then perhaps Clarke would not have re-offended, she said.'

Chief Inspector Davina Logan told reporters that officers who dealt with the case also felt the length of the sentence was 'wholly inappropriate.'

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