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Joseph Bills admits killing cyclist Dave Thorman from Whitstable in drink and drug fuelled crash

By Paul Hooper

A drug-taking van driver smirked oustide court after being told he faces jail for killing a cyclist in a horror crash.

Joseph Bills, 22, was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine when he knocked David Thorman off his bike as he cycled home from work.

Bills sped off, leaving talented chef Mr Thorman fatally injured in Canterbury Road, Whitstable.

Joseph Bills
Joseph Bills

He returned to the scene more than an hour later and was arrested.

Now he has been told he will be jailed for causing Mr Thorman’s death by driving dangerously on March 10.

He admitted the charge, as well as two others of leaving the scene of an accident and driving dangerously as he fled, when he appeared at Canterbury Crown Court today.

Judge Rupert Lowe adjourned sentence for two weeks, telling the packed courtroom: "Normally cases should be progressed as far as they can, including when a guilty plea is entered, to proceed to sentence where possible.

“But in cases of this nature it is important that those who have been affected by this tragic death have an opportunity to put that in writing and I will read all the papers. In my view, cases like this should not be rushed.”

Phil Rowley, defending, said Bills, of South Street, Whitstable, understands a custodial sentence is “inevitable”.

“He’s 22 years old and there are no matters which have been recorded against him,” he added.

But the judge interjected: “There are no matters recorded against him, but he is an admitted user of Class A drugs. So in that sense he is not entirely of good character.”

Bills had faced two other charges of driving carelessly while under the influence of drink and drugs.

Dave Thorman was a talented chef with a passion for life
Dave Thorman was a talented chef with a passion for life

But the Crown Prosecution Service reduced the indictment to three charges after Bills’ lawyer accepted he was under the influence of alcohol and there had been cocaine in his system.

Mr Fitzgerald told the judge that the alcohol and drugs were part of the dangerous driving which Bills had now admitted.

In adjourning the hearing, Judge Lowe told Bills: “You have very properly pleaded guilty to three offences, one of them extremely grave and arising out of the way you drove your van on March 10, which killed Mr Thorman.

“For that there will be a prison sentence. You understand?”

Bills replied: “Yes”.

After granting him bail, the judge praised the family and friends of Mr Thorman for behaving with dignity during the 15-minute hearing.

The 35-year-old chef, who lived in Tankerton Road, described as “a unique free spirit with a gentle soul”.

Joseph Bills
Joseph Bills

He had been cycling home from work when Bills crashed into him near the junction with Saddleton Road at about 8.30pm.

His mum, Jill, 57, was given the heartbreaking news of her son’s death when police visited her home in Hawkinge at 5.30am the following morning.

“They asked to come in and said Dave had been fatally injured,” she said.

“As soon as they said the word fatal my heart just sank. We’ve been in shock ever since.”

Mr Thorman had been head chef for two years at the Crescent Turner, which held a wake following a celebration of his life at the town’s Riverside Church.

His dad, Terry, said at the service: “Dave was one of those people you just immediately felt comfortable in his presence. He was gregarious.

“He was kindness personified. An all-round great young man.”

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