7 years' jail for lorry driver who killed cyclist Catriona Patel

By BikeRadar UK | Friday, November 19, 2010 11.50am

A lorry driver who hit and killed a cyclist while using his mobile phone has been jailed for seven years and given a lifetime driving ban.

Dennis Putz, 51, was over the drink-drive limit and had "the most godawful hangover", according to a crown court judge, when he hit Catriona Patel with his 32-tonne tipper truck at traffic lights near Oval tube station in London last June.

He told Inner London Crown Court he didn't realise he'd run over the avid cyclist, who was wearing high-visibility clothing. It was only when passers-by started hammering on his door that he stopped.

Putz, who had a string of convictions and had previously served jail terms for reckless driving and driving while disqualified, admitted causing death by careless driving but was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving. He admitted using his mobile phone at the time of the accident, but said he was using a hands-free kit.

He denied drinking that morning but said he'd had seven pints of Guinness the previous day. However, the prosecution said that the results of a breath test taken 80 minutes after the crash – a reading of 39mcg in 100ml of breath – suggested he'd "either had a great deal more to drink that night" or "had something to drink that morning".

During sentencing yesterday, judge Roger Chapple said Putz had "shown a consistent disregard for road traffic legislation and the law", The Guardian reported. "Plainly you should never be allowed behind the wheel of an HGV again," he said. "The risk to the public is just too great."

Patel, a director at City PR firm Citigate Dewe Rogerson, was in training with her husband, Anish, to take part in the L'Étape du Tour. In court, Mr Patel described her as a "safe and strong rider", and said his family had been given a life sentence.

After the sentence was announced, Charlie Lloyd, lorry campaigner at the London Cycling Campaign, said: "Catriona's killer should never have been allowed in the cab of an HGV.  The managers and directors of Thames Materials Ltd should have known that Putz was a driver with over 20 convictions. As yet there's been no prosecution for corporate manslaughter after a road death. Surely the people who put Catriona's killer in one of their lorries should be held to account for their actions."

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