Kent

Family's 'shock' at Whitstable hit-and-run crash sentence

David Thorman Image copyright Kent Police
Image caption Chef David Thorman died at the scene despite attempts to save him by both members of the public and paramedics

The family of a cyclist killed by a hit-and-run driver say the jail term given to him is too lenient.

Joseph Bills, 22, had been drinking beer and spirits before hitting 35-year-old chef David Thorman head-on in Whitstable in March.

Bills admitted causing death by dangerous driving and has been jailed for three years and four months.

In a statement outside Canterbury Crown Court, Mr Thorman's father said the family were "shocked and disappointed".

Terry Thorman added: "The tragic loss of our son has affected our family forever... For us not to be there in his final moments and to consider the horrific way his life was taken is still, eight months later, unbearably painful."

He added the family were Christians and although they were "angry at the irresponsible sequence of events" they "harbour no malice towards the young man that caused David's death".

Jailing Bills, the judge said he had to sentence according to the guidelines and that he had to give credit for the fact Bills had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

He said the sentence was not meant to reflect the value of a life.

'Broke down'

The court heard Bills had been drinking beer and sambuca on 10 March, the evening of the crash. He had also taken cocaine the day before.

Later, he veered his Vauxhall Vivaro van on to the wrong side of Canterbury Road and hit the cyclist head-on.

He failed to stop, driving instead to another pub, where he broke down in tears and confessed what had happened.

Image copyright Kent Police
Image caption The judge said he had to give credit for Bills pleading guilty at the first opportunity

Despite being given first aid, Mr Thorman died at the scene.

Bills was arrested when he returned with his parents an hour later, Kent Police said.

A breath test revealed he had 59 mcg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath. The legal limit is 35 mcg.

He also had 122 mcg of benzoylecgonine, a by-product of cocaine, in one litre of blood. The legal limit is 50 mcg.

Sgt Glyn Walker, of Kent Police, said: "The tragedy could have been avoided if [Bills] had only taken the decision not to drive with alcohol and a class A drug in his system."

He added: "I hope today can at least bring some closure for [the family] at this difficult time."

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