Robert Palmer, 32, pleaded guilty at Truro Crown Court to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving after mowing down two cyclists. He has been sentenced to eight and a half years in jail for each count, to be served concurrently.
While on bail over the deaths, he also admitted injuring another driver in a crash. This was in relation to a crash on the same road which took place in September 2013, 11 weeks after the fatal collision where he again fell asleep at the wheel of the lorry and hit another truck. He was sentenced to one year on top of his initial jail time for that offense.
Sentencing judge, Christopher Harvey Clark told the defendant that he would serve half the sentence in prison and the remainder on license. He has been banned from driving for 10 years and has been ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120 which was acknowledged as being an absurdity in such a ‘tragic case’.
Andrew McMenigall, 47, and Toby Wallace, 36, were killed near Newquay on the 2nd July 2013. They both worked for Aberdeen Asset Management and were 40 miles into a 960 mile charity bike ride when they were run over on the nearside lane of a dual carriageway section of the A30. The pair were raising money for two charities, the Kirsten Scott Memorial Trust and Edinburgh-based It’s Good 2 Give and hoping to raise £10,000. The funds increased four-fold with donations at over £40,000 raised.
The court heard that there was good visibility on the roads and the speed-limited lorry Palmer was driving was travelling at 56mph so he “should’ve been able to see” the cyclists. Palmer was a night time delivery driver for Fry’s Logistics Ltd in Launceston but had had little sleep during the day when he should have rested because he was working on vehicle maintenance for the firm.
He was also using his iPhone at the wheel to send text messages while carrying out deliveries between a Lidl base in Somerset where he collected goods and stores in West Cornwall where the stock was dropped off. Judge Clark said “The evidence is at the time when this accident occurred you had almost certainly fallen asleep but it is equally clear you were disregarding the rules of the road by texting continuously and it would seem at length”.
Prosecutors believe Palmer had not had enough rest periods between his work shifts and had falsified rest records. Clark went on to say “You failed to ensure that you took sufficient rests. People should not drive when they are feeling very sleepy or as you were totally exhausted”.
Palmers defence team said that the devoted father of one had no previous convictions and was aware that the deaths had “blighted the lives of two families” and went on to say that he had struggled with the “enormity of what he had done”.
Source: BBC News
Date Published: September 2, 2014
Author: David Brown