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A driver who collided with a pedal cyclist in St Leonards-on-Sea, knocking him nearly 50 metres, has been jailed.
Luke Headech, 25, of Wickham Avenue, Bexhill, was driving along the A259 Grand Parade in the early hours of New Year's Day 2015 when he collided with cyclist Jamie Murray, knocking him 48 metres further along the road. Sadly, Jamie, 23, of The Marina, St Leonards-on-Sea, died at the scene.
Headech initially pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and failing to stop at the scene of an accident, but not guilty to the charges of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed limit of alcohol. The court heard that Headech had initially tried to blame someone else for Mr Murray's death by saying that the car had been stolen from him and the thief had been driving it.
As a result, an innocent man was arrested, but later released when the circumstances became clear. On Friday (April 29), he changed his plea on the death by dangerous driving charge to guilty, but contested the latter charge, claiming that he had had a drink after the collision. At a Newton hearing on Wednesday (May 4), HHJ Anthony dismissed it, stating that he could not accept Headech's explanation. On Thursday (May 5), at Lewes Crown Court, Headech was jailed for a total of seven years; six years and three months for causing death by dangerous driving and nine months for perverting the course of justice.
The offence of causing death by careless driving was ordered to lie on file. He was also banned from driving for five years and will have to take an extended retest. Inspector Phil Duffy from the Surrey and Sussex roads policing unit said: "Speed and alcohol are a potentially lethal combination and Headech compounded his crime by initially driving away from the scene. He added insult to the suffering that he has caused Jamie's family and friends by then trying to evade one of the charges by claiming that he had managed to have a drink between the collision and when he was breath tested. "Nearly 30 witnesses came forward, even though it was just after 4am that New Year's Day morning, supporting the collision investigator's findings that the impact speed was between 48mph and 70mph. In a 30mph limit, this is completely inexcusable. "Headech took a life. He has condemned a family to a lifetime of memories of a young life that was never allowed to develop to its full potential. Our thoughts are with Jamie's family and I would like to pay tribute to the courageous way in which they have dealt and co-operated with our investigation and the case. "As a result, Headech has been rightly jailed and I welcome the sentence, which includes a five year driving ban. That won't start until he leaves prison and he will also have to take an extended retest if he wants to drive again. "We will take action against dangerous drivers, drunk or drugged drivers, speeding drivers and anyone else who puts other road users at risk. You can report them on our Op Crackdown website and we will take action. "If you are one of those drivers, we will do our utmost to see that you are punished for your crimes, hopefully before someone else like Jamie has to pay the ultimate price." Jamie's mother, Angela Miles, said in a witness personal statement: "Jamie was just 23 years old. He was just starting out in life with a new job and a new flat. "Jamie was such a fun loving person. He had a good heart. He enjoyed his life. He loved fishing, going to the beach and just having a laugh with his friends like any other 23-year-old lad. He had such a magnetic character and a great sense of humour. He could walk in to a room and make everyone laugh. We all miss his cheeky grin. It pains us that we will never see him strut through the door again with that grin on his face." After the trial, she added: "Justice seems to have been done, but Jamie's life was worth more than seven years. The fact is that Luke Headech can come out in less than four years and live a normal life, which Jamie cannot. "My family and I now have to continue our lives without Jamie."