Donald Pearce, the driver who killed top UK cyclist Zak Carr on October 17, 2005, was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving and sentenced to five years imprisonment. At the time of the crash, 49 year-old Pearce was driving home from the airport, having not slept since leaving Turkey the previous day. It is believed that he fell asleep at the wheel. Carr was cycling to work along the A11 near Wymondham when he was struck from behind by Pearce. He later died at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
Pearce pleaded not guilty to the charge of death by dangerous driving. His five year sentence was well short of the maximum penalty of 14 years, but it was within current sentencing guidelines.
Roger Geffen, the campaigns and policy manager for the Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC), the UK's largest advocacy group for cyclists, was critical of the sentence. "Despite the new Road Safety Act 2006, the sentencing framework for bad driving offences is still riddled with inconsistencies," he said. "If the driver had done exactly the same thing but by chance Zak Carr had 'merely' been maimed rather than killed, then the maximum sentence the judge could have given him would have been just two years. So it is hardly surprising that judges never seem to go anywhere near the maximum of 14 years open to them in cases such as this where someone really is killed. The Government must sort out these anomalies if sentences for dangerous drivers are to reflect the gravity of threatening other road users' lives."