South East Wales

GB cyclist Simon Richardson: Crash driver Adams jailed

A drunk driver who ploughed into and critically injured a Paralympic champion cyclist who was out training for the 2012 Games has been jailed.

Edward Adams was convicted of dangerous driving after he hit Simon Richardson, sending him 26m (85ft) along the A48 near Bridgend last August.

The Cowbridge farmer was jailed for 18 months at Cardiff Crown Court.

Mr Richardson, who won two gold medals and a silver in Beijing, is out of the London 2012 Games because of the crash.

The cyclist, 44, who has fought back to be fit enough to play a part as a Paralympic torch bearer, was in court for the sentencing on Thursday.

In a statement released after the hearing, he said: "I have some significant health issues to still overcome following the collision, including further back surgery and long-term recovery where my complete effort must be.

"I fully intend to battle my way back to elite competitive sport when I am fully recuperated."

A father-of-two, he added that his life was "now all about moving on".

"My objective throughout the case was to ensure that other cyclists who may be severely injured in collisions in the future have a legal precedent upon which to base prosecutions against dangerous drivers," he said.

Adams, 60, was jailed for 15 months for dangerous driving with three more months added on for failing to stop. A further three-month term for driving with excess alcohol will run alongside the sentence.

Image caption Edward Howell Adams denied dangerous driving in August 2011 but admitted drink-driving

He was also banned from driving for five years.

His trial heard that he had been drinking the night before the crash and drank his first whisky at 6am when he woke up.

A witness described seeing Mr Richardson being thrown into the air as he was struck by Adams' van on the A48, a road known locally as Crack Hill.

Adams stopped briefly, but drove off after he noticed another motorist had stopped to offer Mr Richardson assistance.

'Instinctive lies'

Adams later attempted to hide his Peugeot van at his farm, but it was located by a police helicopter. It had damage to a wing and windscreen.

Judge Daniel Williams said Adams had shown limited empathy for Mr Richardson, and none of the courage and dignity displayed by him.

He described Adams' version of events during his trial as "instinctive lies".

He said: "You first got into the car at 8.45am that morning and when you were breathalysed just after midday you were more than twice the legal drink-drive limit.

"Mr Richardson was clearly visible - cycling close to the kerb and wearing bright clothing.

"Your claims that you were affected by sneezing and sunlight were wholly untrue.

"Your reaction to the accident and its aftermath could not be in greater contrast with the man that you had left injured.

Image caption Simon Richardson won two golds and one silver medal at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008

"You took the opportunity to leave the scene - knowing you had caused the accident."

Mr Richardson, who this week lit the cauldron outside Cardiff's City Hall to mark the arrival of the Paralympic flame, and took part in the torch relay in London, said: "I am happy in a way with the sentence.

"I would have been happy whatever sentence he got - even if he walked free.

"At the end of the day, it was just an accident and he did not deliberately set out to knock me down.

"But it is important that a precedent has been set - that not only should a person be charged with excess alcohol but it also qualifies as dangerous driving.

"I hope this incident shows the need for drivers to be more aware of cyclists on the road."

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