£400 fine for death of cyclist

A MOTORIST was fined just £400 after he admitted cutting a corner and killing a 23-year-old cyclist. Karl Clarke, of River Road, Eaton Ford, was cycling to work along a dark country lane near St Neots on January 30 when he was hit and killed by Stephen Fr

A MOTORIST was fined just £400 after he admitted cutting a corner and killing a 23-year-old cyclist.

Karl Clarke, of River Road, Eaton Ford, was cycling to work along a dark country lane near St Neots on January 30 when he was hit and killed by Stephen Francis's red Vauxhall Astra.

Francis, 43, of Caernarvon Road, St Neots, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention at Huntingdon Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

The court was told both parties were partly to blame for the accident, as Karl had no lights on his bike and was wearing dark clothing.


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But Karl's father told The Hunts Post the sentence was a joke.

Stephen Clarke, 42, said: "He (Francis) has shown no remorse for killing my son whatsoever. He wouldn't even look at us in the courtroom.

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"My daughter has to drive past that spot every day and my mother (Karl's grandmother) can't bear to even go near that road."

He added: "We haven't been given closure today but then we didn't expect it. We will never have closure. We've just been muddling through and we will continue to do so.

"We spend a lot of time by Karl's grave at Wood Green Cemetery. It's good to have somewhere that Karl's brothers and sisters can take their kids in the future to remember him."

The court case followed just weeks after that of the taxi driver whose car hit and killed Ramsey teenager Tom Jones.

Neil Simpson, 50, of Bottels Road, Warboys, was found not guilty of driving without due care and attention. He did, however, plead guilty to six other offences which occurred after the accident involving 17-year-old Tom and was jailed for five months.

This latest case is likely to re-ignite calls to ensure a new charge of causing death by dangerous driving finds its way into law.

The offence could carry a sentence of five years in prison.

On Thursday magistrates were told Francis had been driving along the B1046 towards St Neots at 6.15pm when he made a right turn into Drewels Lane.

He cut the corner at the junction and neither he nor his passenger saw the cyclist.

Karl, a trainee chef at the Crown Inn in Eaton Socon, who only had pedal reflectors on his bike, was cycling to work because his car had been vandalised.

George Speed, defending, said: "My client fully accepts his careless driving. He did not want the victim's family to suffer any further and so has pleaded guilty today.

"It has affected his life greatly, to such a degree that six months after the incident he is still getting counselling to come to terms with that night.

"Two men were involved in this incident and both of them took great risks. Karl Clarke's was to be found cycling at night on a busy unlit road with dark clothing and no lights.

"Mr Francis cut the corner but not at excessive speed. Both parties were to blame."

Presiding magistrate Rosemary Parsons told Francis: "We give you credit for your early guilty plea and we have assessed the level of the carelessness of your driving as medium, which is neither the highest nor the lowest level.

"You will pay a fine of £400, have six penalty points placed on your licence and pay the court costs of £50."

Karl's sisters Rachel and Hayley, brother Jamie, step-sister Kellie, grandparents Margaret and Terry Clarke and stepmother Penny all joined father Stephen in court to hear the verdict.

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