Folkingham van driver jailed for eight years for killing cyclist while drunk

Lincoln Crown Court.
Lincoln Crown Court.
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A van driver who knocked down and killed a cyclist while drunk has been jailed for eight years.

Paul Walken, 42, failed to see 27-year-old Tim Osborn as he drove along the A151 Bourne Road in Spalding and hit him from behind, killing him almost instantly.

Walken, of Chapel Lane, Folkingham, was driving at 70mph in an area with a 50mph limit when he hit the supermarket worker as her was returning home at the end of the shift on the evening of September 14, 2012.

He then simply drove on, stopping two miles later to check if his van was damaged before making his way home.

Lincoln Crown Court heard yesterday (Tuesday) how Mr Osborn’s mother Lynne, anxious because her son had not arrived home, set out to look for him and discovered his dead body in a ditch just five minutes away from their home at Pode Hole, near Spalding.

David Allan, prosecuting, said “These cases by their nature are tragic but there can seldom be a case where the circumstances are as heart rendering as this one.”

The court heard that three days after the crash, Walken rang a police appeal hotline to admit he had been driving in the area at the same. He admitted that his van hit something but said he was “1,000 per cent sure” it was a deer and that he was not responsible for the tragedy.

But forensic tests revealed the presence of Mr Osborn’s DNA on Walken’s van. A GPS tracker device, fitted to the vehicle so that it could be traced if stolen, showed he was on the same stretch of road at the time Mr Osborn was killed. When the data was recovered it showed the van was travelling at 70mph in a 50mph limit.

Mr Allan told the court that Walken had spent the day working in bars and restaurants as part of his job as an engineer maintaining and fitting beer pumps. Police visited the Italian restaurant where Walken carried out his final job of the day and were told by staff that he had botched the repair job and appeared drunk. Then as he left he reversed his van into a parked car before driving off without stopping.

One worker told officers: “His eyes were glazed and his speech was slurred. Everything about him said he was drunk.”

Mr Allan said Mr Osborn was a careful cyclist who was wearing a high visibility jacket and both his front and rear lights were on.

Tom Walkling, for Walken, said “He is desperately sorry for what he has done. He is absolutely heartbroken. The consequences of his actions will weigh on him for the rest of his life. It has affected him very badly.”

Mr Walkling said that Walken lost his job over the incident and has since suffered from depression.

He added: “He didn’t think he had killed the cyclist. When it was brought to his attention that there had been a fatal accident where he had been his employer reports that he broke down in tears. He immediately rang the police.”

Mr Walkling said the defendant disputed the amount he is alleged to have drunk and believed it could have been two and a half pints

Walken, 42, of Chapel Lane, admitted causing Mr Osborn’s death by careless driving while unfit to drive through drink.

He was jailed for eight years and banned from driving for 10 years.

Judge Stuart Rafferty told Walken: “Any car has the potential to become a lethal weapon. The greater the amount of intoxication the greater the risk becomes. This is not murder but it is mechanised manslaughter.

“It does not matter precisely how much you had to drink. All that matters is that it took you far beyond the limit. You should have known that and yet you continued to drive.

“Tim Osborn was entirely without fault. He was there for anyone to see who wanted to see him. You had every opportunity to see him but you did not.

“This was not a momentary lack of attention. It was high speed driving and then not stopping at the scene when you can have been in no doubt that you had hit something.”

The Judge described Mr Osborn as a popular man adding: “He was well-loved by his family and friends. He was a man who it seems from all that I have read would not wish to do harm to anyone. He was 27. He had his life ahead of him.”