Lying hit-and-run driver jailed for cyclist's 'callous' death near Wallingford

Maria Sutton Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption Maria Sutton reported her car stolen after leaving Dr Ruecroft fatally injured

A drink-driver who left a cyclist fatally injured and then reported her car stolen has been jailed for more than four years.

Dr Graham Ruecroft, 54, died in hospital five days after being hit by a 28-year-old Maria Sutton at Cholsey near Wallingford in June 2015.

Sutton admitted drink driving and perverting the course of justice at Oxford Crown Court.

Police said Dr Ruecroft might still be alive if she had stopped to help him.

Image copyright Thames valley Police
Image caption Cyclist Dr Graham Ruecroft died in hospital five days after being hit by the car driven by Sutton

Dr Ruecroft, an expert in the field of pharmaceutical drugs, was found lying on a footpath by passing motorists and was taken to hospital. He died of his head injuries on 9 June 2015.

Det Sgt Gavin Collier said rather than help Dr Ruecroft, Sutton drove off and reported her car as stolen, describing her actions as "unforgivable".

Sutton, of Newlands Way, Cholsey, claimed her vehicle had been stolen from the Red Lion pub in Cholsey, where she had spent the evening drinking.

She was twice over the prescribed alcohol limit at the time of the collision.

Image copyright Change.org
Image caption Relatives set up an online campaign following Dr Graham Ruecroft's death

She was jailed for 35 months for causing death by dangerous driving and 14 months for perverting the course of justice. She was also disqualified from driving for eight years.

In a statement, Dr Ruecroft's brother Malcolm said Sutton was "cold and callous and without feeling" in reporting the car stolen.

"We will never know for sure but I firmly believe that if prompt action had occurred that night the consequences may have been less severe and we may not be mourning a professional who not only had contributed considerably to the field of chemistry but still had a lot to offer this and also the field of pharmaceutical drugs."

The family has backed a campaign by Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland for the law to be changed to ensure criminal drivers are given tougher sentences.

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