A Lincoln businessman who knocked down and killed an RAF officer after failing to see his bicycle in the dark has been spared a jail sentence.
BMW driver Michael Bohan, 38, was talking to his daughter on a hands-free phone when his vehicle struck father-of-two Barrie John Doherty, 43, who was cycling home after finishing work at RAF Cranwell.
Flt Lt Doherty was thrown against the windscreen of Bohan’s vehicle and suffered fatal injuries.
Bohan later insisted he made a momentary error and did not see the racing cycle despite the fact that Flt Lt Doherty was wearing bright clothing and had his lights on when he was struck by the BMW.
David Lee, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court: “The cyclist was thrown onto the windscreen and died shortly afterwards.
“The defendant, in fairness to him, dialled 999 and others who appeared on the scene helped including a nurse who helped as best she could the deceased man.
“The defendant was going to pick up his daughter. There was a text sent to him and he then made voice calls.”
Mr Lee said that Bohan’s mobile phone was attached to his car and he was using a Bluetooth earphone.
“The position is that at the time he was carrying on a conversation and not texting. It does appear, therefore, that was a fact which may have been the reason why he said he simply didn’t see the cyclist.
“There was no fault with the vehicle that he was driving and there was no fault with the cycle. There is no evidence of excessive speed. It is simply a case where he didn’t see the cycle.
“He has been driving without blemish for some time so he obviously normally drives carefully. This ordinarily careful driver has not seen the cyclist.”
The court was told that Bohan had no previous convictions and had a clean driving licence at the time.
Flt Lt Doherty’s mother Susan, in a statement summarised in court, described how his ambition as a young boy had been to join the RAF.
He joined the air cadets at the age of 13 and went on to join the RAF starting his training in 1999.
She said: “It has had such a huge impact on so many people’s lives that we cannot describe how we feel.”
Vicky Doherty, in her statement, said: “On January 7, 2019 life as I know it ended. We were a team. Our lives were inextricably linked.”
Bohan, 38, of Shannon Avenue, Lincoln, admitted a charge of causing death by careless driving as a result of the fatal crash on the A607 at Leadenham, Lincs, on the evening of January 7, 2019.
He was given a 12 month community order with 300 hours of unpaid work and a four month electronically monitored night-time curfew.
He was also banned from driving for 12 months and ordered to pass an extended driving test before he can get his licence back.
Judge John Pini QC told Bohan: “The consequences of what happened could not have been more catastrophic and they have caused utter devastation to the lives of Mr Doherty’s family.
“On the other hand the culpability is the lowest in the criminal calendar, namely carelessness.
“Mr Bohan had a momentary lapse of concentration and failed to see Mr Doherty.
“The statements of Mr Doherty’s mother and wife make heart-breaking reading.
“In passing sentence I am not putting a value on Barrie John’s life. His life was beyond value to his loved ones and they have the deepest sympathy of this court.”
The Judge added: “Mr Bohan accepts that he was using a hands-free phone to talk to his daughter.
“The accident investigator’s report says that he simply did not see Mr Doherty and he was there to be seen.
“Hands-free phones are clearly lawful, although it does not follow that because they are lawful they cannot be a distraction.
“The difficulty I have is one of evidence.”
The judge went on to say he could not be sure on the evidence that Bohan’s use of the mobile phone was the reason he failed to see the cyclist.
Michael Cranmer-Brown, in mitigation, told the court: “Mr Bohan apologises to the court and to the family of the deceased.
“It was a momentary lapse of attention. He made an error. It was a very brief moment of careless driving.
“He is a hard-working man who made a mistake over a matter of a few seconds which has had dreadful consequences. He is wracked with remorse. He would do anything he could to turn the clock back.
“The impact upon his life has been huge. He has been referred to counselling. It has had an enormous effect on him emotionally.”