Lancashire

Cyclist killer's six-month sentence 'does not fit crime'

David Hitchen Image copyright Lancashire Police
Image caption David Hitchen rode for Great Britain in the 1990s, winning several international races

A six-month prison term handed to a motorist who killed an ex-international cyclist in a crash "does not fit the crime," British Cycling has said.

Motorcyclist Leighton Santos, 22, admitted causing David Hitchen's death through careless driving and was jailed at Preston Crown Court on Monday.

The maximum sentence is five years, but this can be reduced by a guilty plea.

Road safety charity Brake said there was a "need to see much tougher sentences when a driver has killed".

Santos admitted causing the 42-year-old former Great Britain international's death near Belmont, Lancashire, in September 2014, on the first day of his trial.

Lancashire Police said Santos had been riding a Yamaha motorbike on Rivington Road when he "drifted into the opposite carriageway" and collided with Mr Hitchen.

'Insulting'

The cyclist suffered serious injuries and died later in hospital.

In addition to the six months for causing death by careless driving, Santos was also given 12 months for another motoring offence.

In March 2016 he was convicted at Manchester Crown Court of dangerous driving after taking police on an eight-mile pursuit that saw him reach speeds of up to 90mph (145km/h) in a 30mph zone.

Martin Key, British Cycling's campaigns manager, said six months for "causing the death of a human being is a punishment that many would agree certainly does not fit the crime".

"While these incidents are extremely rare, we need to ensure that sentencing guidelines adequately reflect the potential consequences of an offence," he said.

A spokeswoman for Brake said the sentence was "insulting".

"Leighton Santos, who killed another human being, was sentenced to a paltry 18 months in prison, and will likely be out in nine.

"It's no wonder that grieving relatives are often left feeling let down and insulted by our justice system.

"We need to see much tougher sentences when a driver has killed, particularly when, as in this case, they have exhibited previous examples of dangerous behaviour."

Image copyright Lancashire Police
Image caption Santos admitted causing Mr Hitchen's death on the first day of his trial

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