Published: 13:15, 20 November 2017
The devastated father of a cyclist killed in a crash says despite the "unbearable pain" of losing his son, his family harbours no malice towards the drink-driver who caused the tragedy.
Speaking after Joseph Bills was jailed for three years and four months for causing Dave Thorman's death, his Christian father Terry Thorman said he hoped he would find "forgiveness and freedom" through God - but added he was shocked by the leniency of the sentence.
Dave, 35, was travelling home from work at the time of the crash in Canterbury Road, Whitstable in March.
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Bills, 22, had taken class A drugs the night before the crash, and had been drinking in two pubs beforehand.
After the head-on crash, he drove his badly damaged car to a pub, where he ordered another pint of lager.
He then tearfully confided to a friend he had killed someone, before returning to the crash scene and telling police he was the driver involved.
In the statement read outside Canterbury Crown Court following today's sentencing hearing, Mr Thorman spoke of the heartbreaking prospect of life without his son.
He said: "The tragic loss of our son, David Thorman, has affected our family forever – he was a wonderful young man, deeply loved by us, his parents, his siblings and his friends.
"For us not to be there in his final moments and to consider the horrific way his life was taken is still, eight months later, unbearably painful.
"What were once joy-filled family occasions are now tinged with sadness as we inevitably think of our missing son. It is so hard to face the rest of our lives without him."
In a remarkable show of restraint, he added: "Although angry at the irresponsible sequence of acts that led to his death we harbour no malice towards the young man who caused David’s death.
"As Christians we know the reality of God’s forgiveness personally and pray that he will find forgiveness and freedom through knowing Christ, even while serving a sentence in prison."
In the aftermath of the crash, devastated family and friends described Dave as a “unique free spirit with a gentle soul”.
Following the sentencing, Sergeant Glyn Walker paid tribute to Mr Thorman’s family who, he said, had shown the utmost stoicism and bravery throughout the investigation and court case.
"Joseph Bills showed a flagrant disregard for both the drink and drug drive limits and David Thorman paid the price," said Sergeant Walker.
"Bills could have stopped to help David, yet he did not.
"But the tragedy could have been avoided altogether if he had only taken the decision not to drive with alcohol and a class A drug in his system.
"Drink and drug driving can and does ruin lives. And while no sentence will ever compensate David’s family for their loss, I hope that today can at least bring some closure for them at this difficult time."
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