Pepe Belmonte cycle crash: PC David Lynch spared jail
- 9 October 2012
- From the section London
A police officer convicted of driving a police van dangerously when it hit a cyclist in east London has been given an eight-month suspended jail term.
PC David Lynch, 31, had been driving at speeds of up to 68mph in a 30mph zone when the van crashed into Joseph Belmonte in Hackney on 31 March 2011.
The musician, known as Pepe, suffered serious spinal injuries and brain damage, Southwark Crown Court heard.
Lynch, of Bedfordshire, has resigned from the British Transport Police.
The officer, from Comfrey Road, Stotfold, admitted careless driving but was convicted of dangerous driving in August.
Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC said: "What has weighed significantly with me is your intense guilt, remorse and utter distress at the injuries you caused that day, coupled with your immediate and appropriate response not only at the scene but in your determined efforts afterwards, until you were told it was inappropriate, to seek information about the welfare of Mr Belmonte."
Lynch had been on his way to an incident in the Old Street area with sirens on and lights flashing at the time of the crash, jurors heard.
Eyewitnesses described seeing his van "taking off" after hitting a humpback bridge, with all four of its wheels leaving the ground before it hit the cyclist.
Mr Belmonte, 31, was in a medically induced coma for nine days after being hit from behind.
He sustained a broken right elbow and little finger which resulted in him having to learn to play the guitar again.
He also suffered severe psychological effects and his head and brain injuries meant he was likely to be left with permanent cognitive impairment, jurors were told.
Judge Pegden said Mr Belmonte had suffered "catastrophic life-changing" injuries and his career as a musician had been "ruined".
"He still suffers major disabilities and faces further significant surgery and treatment," he said.
In a statement, Mr Belmote said he hoped Lynch's sentence would deter all motorists from driving at excessive speeds and in a manner which put other road users at risk.
"If the threat of a custodial sentence is what it takes to remind trained police officers on emergency calls that they take personal responsibility for their actions then it is a positive law that needs to stay in place," he said.
"My primary concern now is to continue with my recovery and to continue with my music and film career."
Christine Tallon, Mr Belmonte's lawyer, said Lynch had not faced a lengthy prison sentence "more through sheer luck than judgment".
The court heard Lynch had two previous speeding convictions.
He was also ordered to carry out 240 hours of community service, was banned from driving for 15 months and must pay £1,000 costs.
After the sentencing a British Transport Police (BTP) spokesperson said: "BTP trains all those trusted to drive police vehicles to the highest standard and to drive safely, even when responding to emergency calls.
"On this occasion, the officer fell short of the standards expected and we fully acknowledge the immeasurable impact and effect this has had on Mr Belmonte and his family."