Motorist who killed cyclist is jailed

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A drunk driver who was four times over the limit and speeding when he mowed down and killed a cyclist was yesterday jailed at the Old Bailey for nine months.

The judge, Recorder Andrew Collins, QC, said that he was passing a lenient sentence because he hoped that Anthony Peters, 29, could return to his job. Peters, of Odessa Street, Rotherhithe, south-east London, was found guilty of causing death by reckless driving. He denied the charge.

Paul Witcher, 26, a photography student of Old Kent Road, Bermondsey, south-east London, suffered severe head injuries in the crash on 5 October last year and died the following day.

Three medical students who witnessed the accident told the court that Peters was driving his Vauxhall car at 50mph in a 30mph zone. He lost control, for no apparent reason, swerved and crashed into the cyclist in Redriff Road, Rotherhithe.

Anna-Maria Christofides, for the prosecution, said that Peters' car hit the kerb before ploughing into Mr Witcher's bicycle. The victim was carried 20 yards (18m) on the bonnet before the car smashed into a garden wall.

'Peters got out and was seen to be staggering. He was seen to run away but was brought back promptly by one of the students and another witness,' Mrs Christofides said.

Peters said that he had drunk only two pints of cider but a blood sample showed he was more than four times over the legal limit. He also claimed that the cyclist had pulled out in front of him.

Rupert Pardoe, for the defence, said that Peters would lose his job as an engineering instructor at London Transport if a long sentence was imposed. 'My client is full of remorse for what happened. He has not driven since the accident,' he said. 'His relationship with his girlfriend is coming to an end because of the accident. His life is in tatters. No one could have been more affected by a tragic mistake.'

The judge told Peters: 'You clearly had too much to drink. But I accept there is an enormous amount of good in you. You are intelligent, have a good job and you have also shown enormous remorse. This tragedy has affected your life as well as destroying the life of your unfortunate victim.

'The sentence is sufficent to mark the seriousness of what happened and sufficient to enable you to pick up the pieces of your life. Nothing I can do to you can bring back the life you destroyed.'

Peters was also banned from driving for five years.