Friday 22 March 2019

Driver who fatally hit cyclist (19) with car and 'callously' drove away without ever taking foot off accelerator jailed

Raymond Isherwood
Raymond Isherwood
Jake Gilmore

A driver who fatally hit a teenage cyclist before "callously" driving away without taking his foot off the accelerator has been jailed for three years.

Raymond Isherwood, 53, ploughed straight into the back of Jake Gilmore, 19, as the chef cycled home from work in Bath, Somerset, on November 16 last year.

Isherwood later claimed he had not seen Mr Gilmore, as he had been fiddling with the CD drive of his laptop, which was on his passenger seat, while he drove at around 34mph.

The photographer insisted he was "completely distracted" as he manoeuvred the disc from the laptop and towards his car music player - until he felt his Volkswagen Golf hit an object.

Bristol Crown Court heard Isherwood, of Bennett Street, Bath, did not attempt to brake or stop as Mr Gilmore's body flipped onto his car bonnet and over his roof.

Mr Gilmore was discovered by passers-by lying fatally injured on the road, Midland Bridge Road, and died in hospital hours later.

Isherwood drove to a nearby park, where he parked his car and covered the smashed windscreen and dents with a plastic sheet from his boot.

A police officer traced a fragment of car left at the scene to the abandoned Golf and Isherwood, the vehicle's registered owner, was arrested on November 19.

He admitted charges of causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop after an accident, perverting the course of justice and failing to surrender to police bail.

Isherwood, who had a clean license and no previous convictions, also pleaded guilty to production of cannabis, relating to 46 plants found by officers in his top floor flat.

Judge Michael Roach sentenced Isherwood to a total of three years in prison.

"This was a dreadful piece of driving," he said.

"It was made the worse by your failure to slow down or stop in the immediate aftermath of the collision.

"You left the scene with no thought for the person you had just struck.

"You must have known that he was very likely to have been seriously injured, not least by the damage caused to your car.

"You thought only of yourself and you sought to hide what you had done.

"Jake Gilmore was 19-years-old, he was in the prime of his life.

"He was a much loved son and brother.

"The impact of his loss on his family and friends is profound.

"Their suffering will have been made worse by the callous way you left the scene.

"Common humanity and common decency should have made you stop after this collision but you drove on regardless."

Prosecuting, Rupert Lowe told the court Mr Gilmore had been cycling home from work at the Lion and Lamb pub at 9.30pm on November 16 when the collision happened.

Mr Lowe described visibility on the road as good and said Mr Gilmore had fitted bright LED lights to the front and rear of his bicycle, which gave out a "solid beam".

"Mr Isherwood drove up behind him in his black Volkswagen Golf and drove right into him," Mr Lowe said.

"Mr Gilmore was thrown from his bicycle, landed on the bonnet, the windscreen and the roof of the car before falling to the road behind.

"Mr Isherwood knew he had hit somebody but he failed to stop.

"In fact, he told the police he didn't even brake or take his foot off the accelerator."

Isherwood drove on to Royal Victoria Park, where he parked his car, covered it with a plastic sheet in his boot and walked home to his nearby flat.

"He could hear the sirens in the distance which he knew must relate to the accident which he had just caused," Mr Lowe added.

The collision was not witnessed by anyone, but passers-by soon came across Mr Gilmore, who was not wearing a safety helmet, lying fatally injured in the road.

He was taken to Royal United Hospital in Bath, where he was pronounced dead at 4am on November 17.

Police investigating the scene discovered a piece of grill from the front bumper of Isherwood's car, which an officer found at Royal Victoria Park at 9.30pm the next day.

In police interview, Isherwood said he hoped he had hit a dog and claimed he had been distracted by attempting to move a music CD from his laptop to car player.

But Mr Lowe said forensic examination of the laptop proved Isherwood's story could not be correct and it did not have fragments of glass from the broken windscreen in it.

Mr Gilmore's father, Toby, read a statement to the court on behalf of the family, including mother Sue and brother Max, from Chard, Somerset.

"This crime has inflicted no physical wounds on us and yet we feel completely broken," he said.

"Each morning we get up as we have to and we pass the hours joylessly and slowly until the day ends again.

"I don't believe we will ever be happy again."

Representing Isherwood, Charles Row said his client had "panicked" after the collision and had not been able to face up to what he had done.

He read a letter from Isherwood, which said: "I am so desperately sorry for the immense pain and loss that I have caused them and offer the family my sincere regret."

Isherwood, who asked not to be supported by family during the hearing, bowed his head as the sentence was passed.

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