'Insistently lawless' trucker jailed for causing death of cyclist
An "insistently lawless" lorry driver has been jailed for three and a half years for causing the death of a cyclist by careless "cavalier" driving.
Barry Meyer, 53, of Walthamstow, east London, was sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court for causing the "needless and utterly tragic death" of cyclist Alan Neve.
He was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.
The incident took place in the morning rush-hour in Holborn, central London, in July 2013.
Meyer pleaded guilty last month to causing death by careless driving, while two offences of driving while uninsured and unlicensed were allowed to lie on file.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Daniel Worsley said Meyer - who has previous driving convictions including drink-driving - "crushed" 54-year-old Mr Neve with both the front and back wheels of the lorry, resulting in "almost instant death".
Distressing CCTV footage of the incident, in which Meyer drove through a red light, was shown to the court during the hearing.
Judge Worsley said: "Mr Neve had lived almost or just over half his life. He was the finest husband, father and family man, and plainly, as you have heard, in every way the finest and most decent of men."
Allison Hunter, for the prosecution, had read out a statement on behalf of Mr Neve's widow, Penelope Johnson, who was in court.
Ms Johnson said in the statement: "I want to start by telling you that I loved Alan with all my heart and that he made me happier than anyone else in the world."
She said they "lived life to the full", adding: "I felt like the luckiest woman in the world to have him as my husband."
Ms Johnson said that when she heard her husband was dead and in the mortuary, she remembered thinking that he would be cold and that she should take him some warm clothes and a blanket.
"When Alan's rucksack was brought back to our home from the scene of the accident, I took out his sandwich that he had made for lunch and froze it - it is still in the freezer," her statement said.
She said the last bedding he slept in and towel he used are folded up in his wardrobe.
"His pyjamas are still under his pillow. I smell them and imagine he is here," she said.
Ms Johnson said in her statement that she constantly looked for her husband on the Underground or when she was driving in her car.
"There is not one area of my life that has not been affected," she added.
Ms Johnson said that everything has changed and her life "used to be vividly and richly coloured and now it is black and white".
Judge Worsley said the harm caused by Meyer is "devastating beyond all measure" and told him: "Nothing I can do or say can bring back Mr Neve or undo the horror your carelessness caused."
Handing down the sentence of three and a half years, the judge referred to Meyer's previous driving offences and said his history showed a "wretched disregard for the safety of road users".
He added: "You have been insistently lawless and selfish in your regard for other road users."
The judge said there is no better adjective to describe Meyer's driving than "cavalier".
The court heard that a witness to the incident "fell apart" in the aftermath due to what he had seen.
This witness was said to be "substantially psychiatrically damaged" and has not been able to return to the scene.
Neil Corre, mitigating, said Meyer has expressed genuine remorse.
London Cycling Campaign welcomed the jail term and 10-year driving ban, adding: "We believe, however, that a lifetime driving ban is essential to keep such dangerous drivers off the road.
"He should never have been allowed near a large lorry, let alone drive it recklessly through central London."
The judge said earlier: "Heaven knows why the lorry owners let you drive that vehicle without checking that you had an HGV licence, but that's not a matter for me today."
Mr Neve was described by his widow as a "gentle, kind, sensitive man".