Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Cyclist death: 'Dog walk text message killed my brother'

Christopher Gard Image copyright Hampshire Constabularly
Image caption Christopher Gard had been in court six weeks before Lee Martin's death

A van driver who killed a cyclist while texting was sending an "inane" message about a dog walk, the victim's brother has said.

Lee Martin, 48, from Basingstoke, died after he was hit by a van driven by Christopher Gard on 12 August 2015.

Gard, 30, of Alton had at least six previous convictions of using a phone at the wheel.

He admitted causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for nine years at Winchester Crown Court on Monday.

'Distraught'

The victim's brother, Darrell Martin, said: "There were opportunities to stop the man from driving around."

Speaking on the Today programme, Mr Martin said: "The text message - think about how inane this is - it was about meeting his mate later and taking his dog for a walk. That's what killed my brother."

Mr Martin said he remembers getting the "distraught" phone call from his mother telling him his brother had been killed in a cycling accident.

He said he remembered thinking he hoped he had been killed because of an "unavoidable accident".

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Lee Martin was taking part in an organised cycling event in Hampshire

The Martin family believes Gard should have faced tougher action due to his previous offences of using a phone at the wheel.

"Just six weeks before he had persuaded a magistrate not to take his licence away and promised to lock his phone in the boot," Mr Martin said.

The father-of-two, who had been taking part in an organised cycling event, died in hospital following the crash.

Gard, who was driving at 65mph in a Ford Transit on the A31 near Bentley in Hampshire, was texting immediately prior to the time of the crash, Hampshire Constabulary said.

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Media captionDarrell Martin describes how his brother was killed by a texting driver

Mr Martin said: "I don't think it's enough he'll be out in four-and-a -half years. The issue for me is that he shouldn't have been on the road in the first place."

Gard was also banned from driving for 14-and-a-half years.

Causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

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