Sandwich-eating driver sentenced for careless driving death

Paul Brown Paul Brown was ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work

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A motorist who knocked down and killed a cyclist while eating a sandwich at the wheel has been sentenced for causing death by careless driving.

Paul Brown, 30, hit off-duty firefighter Joseph Wilkins on a country road near Abingdon in May 2012.

The lock keeper, of Witney, must carry out 240 hours of unpaid work and was disqualified from driving for a year.

He admitted the charge and was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving at a trial at Oxford Crown Court.

Father-of two Mr Wilkins was struck from behind by Brown's Ford Focus just after 21:00 BST.

'Eyes on road'

Brown, of Oxford Road, Eynsham admitted in court he had been eating a sandwich between five and 10 seconds before the collision.

He said his eyes "were on the road" but Mr Wilkins had no lights or reflectors.

Joseph Wilkins Off-duty firefighter Joseph Wilkins, 39, died in May last year

In a statement read out in court, Mr Wilkins' partner Nicci Saunders said: "Some days I find it hard to breathe with the pain that is in my heart.

"It feels like I have a huge weight on my chest and an emptiness that can't be filled."

The couple, who had been together for seven years, had two young children, aged two and five.

She added: "Both of them now worry that if I go away, I will also leave them one day."

In mitigation, a tearful Brown stood in the dock while a statement was read on his behalf. It said he was "remorseful" for the tragic event and he felt "a great deal of empathy towards the victim and his family".

After the trial concluded on 8 August, Sgt Jack Hawkins, of Thames Valley Police, said: "The jury in this case decided that the facts amounted to careless driving as opposed to dangerous.

"What I would do of course is urge all drivers to think about their driving and their actions behind the wheel so that this kind of thing doesn't happen.

"Fatal collisions are very often avoidable and this case was no different at all."

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