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Torquay crash death cyclist's family tell court: 'Don't ruin car driver's life'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: March 27, 2014

  • FLASHBACK: The scene of the accident

THE family of a cyclist who died after a collision on Torquay seafront have told a court: "He would not want this tragic accident to ruin the life of the person responsible for his death."

The teacher convicted of causing his death walked free from court after the hearing.

Driver Holly Hammond, 29, was turning left into Rathmore Road at the Grand Hotel junction when she hit Jeffrey Hennels. Mr Hennels, 71, (pictured below) died a week after the collision in Derriford Hospital from head injuries.

Members of his family were in court to hear magistrates in Torquay disqualify Hammond from driving for two years.

The defendant, 29, pleaded guilty to causing death by driving without due care and attention.

The court was told 'a momentary lapse of attention' by the defendant had tragic consequences for Mr Hennels.

Hammond said she was '100 per cent remorseful' for what she had done and deserved the punishment of the court. But in a victim personal statement, one of Mr Hennels' children said: "I can't speak for him although I would like to think he would not want this tragic accident to ruin the life of the person responsible for his death."

The court was told Mr Hennels, a keen Torquay United fan, had been cycling home on a sunny day in June last year when he stopped at traffic lights.

Hammond, driving a Mini, pulled up at the lights on Mr Hennels' outside and the pair waited for the lights to turn green.

A witness described seeing her pull away when the lights turned green. She turned left into his path and Mr Hennels collided with the Mini.

Her solicitor, Ben Darby, told the court: "As she went past him she gave him a wide berth and then turned left. It was a mistake. Her mistake was assuming he was turning left and taking the same path up Rathmore Road. It was a momentary lapse of attention.

"Had she looked over her shoulder she would have seen he wasn't turning left. Her blame is not looking over her shoulder."

Mr Hennels was knocked from his bike and his head hit the road. Initially he seemed to have nothing more serious than a cut, but the true nature of his condition became apparent to doctors at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.

After fighting for his life for a number of days doctors told his family there was nothing more they could do and his life support system was switched off.

He died on July 4.

In a statement his daughter Rachel Ward said Mr Hennels' death had devastated her family. "He was always someone who could be relied upon to do his best to help in any situation," she said.

"I miss my dad immensely and hope myself and my loved ones will never have to go through such a traumatic experience ever again."

Magistrates said they had taken into consideration Hammond's lack of previous convictions and clean driving record. They said she did not deserve to go to prison.

They ordered her to do 180 hours of unpaid work, pay a victim surcharge of £60 and costs of £85.

Hammond was also told to take a driver's test at the end of her ban.

After the case Rachel Ward said what happened was a 'tragic accident'.

"No sentence of any kind would have changed the situation or how we feel. We just wanted to make sure Dad was fairly represented in court.

"The most important thing is the woman will have to do an advanced driving course. At the end of the day she looked remorseful.

"As for the junction my concern is people need to be more aware and maybe the cycle lane should continue rather than finish at the traffic lights.

"I would also like to point out how important it is for cyclists to wear helmets, which my dad was not doing."

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