Hit-and-run drink-driver who ended cyclist's paralympic dream receives 18-month sentence

Cardiff Crown Court, where driver Edward Adams was jailed. Photo: matthewgriff
A hit-and-run drink-driver who ended a medal-winning disabled cyclist’s Paralympic dream has received an 18-month prison sentence. Simon Richardson, already disabled after a cycling collision with a car, had won medals in Beijing and was training for the London Paralympics when the crash happened.

The 44-year-old cyclist from Porthcawl was riding on the A48 near Bridgend – a road known locally as Crack Hill – when he was hit by a car driven by Edward Adams, 61, from Cowbridge.

The court heard that Richardson was thrown 26 metres into the air after Adams’s van hit him from behind. Adams then stopped briefly, but drove off after he noticed another motorist had stopped to offer Richardson assistance. Adams then rushed back home to hide his Peugeot van at his farm, before pouring himself a glass of whisky – in a bid to try to disguise the fact he had been drinking before the collision, Cardiff Crown Court was told. The van was eventually located by police helicopter.

When interviewed by police, Adams said he had been drinking the night before and had drunk his first whisky at 6am when he woke up. He admitted drink-driving and failing to stop, but denied a charge of dangerous driving, claiming in court that he had been sneezing and dazzled by sunlight.

Simon Richardson deserves a medal for the incredible dignity of his response to this second life-shattering collision."

Roger Geffen
CTC Campaigns and Policy Director

Judge Williams described Adams’ version of events during his trial as “instinctive lies” – and said the sentence he imposed reflected the serious harm and injury Mr Richardson had been caused.

Adams was given a 15-month prison sentence for dangerous driving, and an extra three months jail for failing to stop. A three month sentence for driving with excess alcohol will run concurrently, and he will be banned from driving for 5 years.

Passing sentence at Cardiff Crown Court, Judge Daniel Williams said Adams had shown limited empathy for his victim – and none of the courage and dignity displayed by Mr Richardson.

Judge Williams 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. You took the opportunity to leave the scene – knowing you had caused the accident.”

Richardson, already disabled after being hit by a car in 2001, suffered a catalogue of further injuries, included a fractured spine, broken pelvis, collapsed lung and perforated bowel.

Speaking after the verdict was announced, the father-of-two said: “I still have another operation to go through, which if it is unsuccessful could leave me permanently paralysed.

“It’s also been difficult to miss out on taking part in the London Paralympics. But I am a strong person, and plan to keep on fighting.

“As for the court’s verdict, 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.”

CTC's Campaigns & Policy Director Roger Geffen said: "Simon Richardson deserves a medal for the incredible dignity of his response to this second life-shattering collision. It is great that this was recognised when he was invited to light the Paralympic flame, but goodness knows how he must feel about missing out on the games themselves.

"The Judge clearly recognised the seriousness of Adams's offence, and he was right to impose a lengthy driving ban. Adams's persistent failure to acknowledge his true guilt suggests that he probably needs to be kept off the roads for some time.

"Recent new laws, introduced since his offence was committed, have now narrowed the gap somewhat between the sentences for dangerous driving which proves fatal and equally bad driving which doesn't. So his 18-month sentence is probably lenient compared with what he'd have faced if Richardson hadn't survived, or indeed if the same non-fatal but life-changing collision were to happen today."