A cocaine-taking motorist who caused the death of a cyclist when he knocked him off his electric bike has been jailed for three years today.
Former binman Dean Thomas had traces of the Class A drug in his system when his car struck 71-year-old grandfather David Cox on a roundabout on the Old Thanet Way in Herne Bay.
The 44-year-old, who was on licence after receiving an indeterminate life sentence for robbery in 2007, claimed dazzling sunlight had blinded him before the collision.
A jury ruled his driving was not dangerous, but hours later found him guilty of causing death by careless driving while having cocaine traces in his body.
Tests showed he had 289 micrograms of benzoylecgonine per litre of blood in his system.
Benzoylecgonine is a by-product of cocaine once metabolised by the body. The legal limit is 50 micrograms.
The court was told grandfather-of-six Mr Cox had taken a disabled friend to St Martin's Church in Herne on the morning of the crash in January last year, but because he had a "slight cold" decided to miss the service and cycle home. It was a journey he had made "hundreds of times".
Thomas's defence barrister had claimed no one had been to blame for the accident, claiming Mr Cox had been in Thomas's blindspot for "three crucial seconds".
“But the jury decided that you were to blame," Judge Catherine Brown told Thomas. "You approached this roundabout at 21mph and didn’t slow down or stop.
“You did not see this cycle and you claimed you were blinded by the sun. But you drove into the roundabout far too fast without giving yourself the chance to check it was safe to enter.”
She said Thomas had been impaired by the drugs he had taken and by the fact he was tired.
Prosecutor Katherine Donnelly told the court Mr Cox had been a "loving husband, father and grandfather" and was a former church treasurer.
“No sentence I could pass could bring David Cox back and his family and friends will continue to miss him..." - Judge Catherine Brown
In his earlier days he was a keen badminton player and enjoyed cycling.
Judge Brown praised Mr Cox's widow, Priscilla, and their two sons for their “dignity” throughout the trial.
“No sentence I could pass could bring David Cox back and his family and friends will continue to miss him," she added.
“Nothing I can say will alter that sad reality, and all I have read and heard about Mr Cox shows what a tragedy this is.”
As well as being jailed, Thomas was banned from driving for four-and-a-half years.
After the sentencing, investigating officer PC Natalie Rowley said: "A series of bad and selfish decisions made by Dean Thomas has caused a family to lose their father and grandfather. It’s a fact he will have to face, that he is responsible for causing that.
"Lives have been ruined, and I hope it serves as a lesson to anyone who is considering mixing drugs and driving, or driving when they know they are too tired to give their full focus to the road ahead.
"My thoughts are with Mr Cox’s family and I thank them for their support in this case."