Family slam jailed trucker who mowed down cyclist

THE devastated family of a cyclist mown down by a trucker who later dumped the mangled bike to try to cover his tracks have spoken of their relief after his killer was jailed.

Andrew Stubbs, 41, was behind the wheel of his lorry when it hit cyclist Tony Spink, 41, at the junction of Ings Road and Charlesworth Way, Wakefield.

Stubbs, from Oxford, had been driving since 5am and had not taken the legal 4.5 hour break when the accident happened at around 10am.

Featherstone artist Mr Spink's bike was dragged along under the lorry for several minutes.

But instead of reporting the accident, panicking Stubbs is believed to have pulled over onto a layby, pulled out the wedged, mangled bike from his lorry and thrown it into some undergrowth on the Ossett Bypass along with Mr Spink's passport, other documents and two panniers which the cyclist had been carrying.

The items were discovered by passers-by two days later and traced back by police.

At an earlier trial, Stubbs – who no longer works as a trucker – was convicted by a jury of perverting the course of justice and careless driving.

Also at an earlier hearing a witness said Mr Spink, an experienced cyclist, had tried to cling on to the windscreen wipers and was thumping on the side of the truck to try and get his attention.

Yesterday, at Leeds Crown Court, Stubbs was jailed for two years and banned from driving for three years.

Stubbs, wearing a dark suit and tie, and with his hands by his sides throughout, stood straight-faced in the dock as his sentence was read out.

Judge Penelope Belcher said his behaviour after the accident had been "callous" and he had shown total disregard for Mr Spink and his family.

"You sought to prevent any proper investigation into the circumstances of Mr Spink's death," she said. "You pulled the bike out from under the lorry. It was plainly damaged.

"You must have realised you had collided with a pedal cyclist and that the cyclist must have suffered serious injury, and given the circumstances of the bike being lodged under the lorry, you must have realised that the cyclist might have been killed.

"You plainly knew, or ought to have known, he was there.

"The exact circumstances are a matter of some dispute...(but] Mr Spink and his bike ended up beneath your lorry."

She said Stubbs' attempts to "undermine the proper investigation" of the case had added to Mr Spink's family's pain and the two years since the event in July 2007 had been "worse and more distressing than the actual funeral" for them.

"All involved in this case have conducted themselves with dignity," she told Stubbs. "Instead you continue, despite the weight of the evidence against you, (to claim] no knowledge of how the bike came to be in the undergrowth.

"You have shown no remorse at all.

"In the witness box not once did you express any concern for the deceased and his family.

"Your attitude was 'it was all the cyclist's fault'.

"You showed callous indifference to Mr Spink's death and that was reflected in how you disposed of the bike and other items in the layby.

"It was plain you put concern for yourself above any concern for the cyclist."

After the hearing, the Spinks family said: "No sentence will ever compensate us for the loss of our Tony.

"We have been robbed of the most precious person for the rest of our lives – he was kind and gentle and gifted and we miss him terribly.

"Stubbs has enjoyed the protection of the law. In court he displayed total contempt for the life of a human being.

"He feels no remorse, sorrow or regret at the taking of an innocent life.

"As Stubbs spends a short term in prison, we will spend the rest of our lives with the permanent pain of our Tony's loss."

They said they were pleased he was going to prison and that he had not "got away with it".

"We can start mourning our Tony now. This has consumed a large part of our grieving process," Mr Spink's sister Jane said.

"It's not been a normal grieving process.

"We can take a look at Tony's life and not his death."

She said on the night of the accident, unaware of the circumstances, one of the first things the family had done was ask police how the driver was.

"We showed compassion for him and we never got it in return," she said.

The family also thanked West Yorkshire Police for their "fantastic" work in supporting them and bringing them justice.

Stubbs, from Bicester, Oxford, also pleaded guilty to three summary offences of failing to stop, failing to report an accident and driving more than the legal limit of 4.5 hours without a break.

Headingley Hill Congregational Church on Headingley Lane. . Picture Tony Johnson.

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