Death-crash coward gets nine years
A DRUNK driver who ran over and killed a road worker and then left the scene has been jailed for nine years and branded a “coward” by a judge.
The culprit, Paul Joyce, of The Dell, Woodston, Peterborough, was also banned from driving for 10 years at Leicester Crown Court yesterday.
The court heard how he had drunk four pints of lager, four pints of cider and a Jack Daniels whiskey before the incident on the A1 on February 12, which killed Highways Agency worker Ernest Mathers, a 46-year-old grandfather from Doncaster.
Mr Mathers, a banksman, was thrown 50m through the air from the impact and suffered multiple injuries, including a completely severed leg.
Wearing high visibility clothing, a reflective harness and LED lights, he been directing lorries bringing Tarmac to resurface a stretch of road at Great Casterton, near Stamford.
On the evening of February 12, former AA patrol driver Joyce – who has a previous conviction for driving with excess alcohol in 2002 – had visited a friend at RAF Cottesmore, intending to stay overnight.
However, he changed his mind and tried to drive his Audi A4 home at 1.15am. He had been drinking before attending a party, taking with him oneand-a-half bottles of vodka, although it is not known how much of that was consumed.
Driving without headlights on, Joyce almost collided into the exit barrier leaving the RAF base and crashed in Main Street, at nearby Greetham, writing off a Fiat car, damaging a van and causing damage to a wall and door of Oak House Residential Home.
He persuaded a lorry driver to drop him off half a mile away at a roundabout connecting with the A1, near a six-mile stretch of the northbound A1, where the Highways Agency were working.
He was dropped off at 1.45am and then stole a roadworks van and drove off at between 80 and 100 mph, travelling the wrong way on the carriageway.
Three lorries were stationary, waiting to unload Tarmac and Joyce failed to stop in time, colliding with the door and side of one.
His car span into the central reservation and hit Mr Mathers, at between 48 and 58mph.
The van then hit a second lorry, collided with Mr Mathers again and its engine burst into flames.
Joyce was rescued by Mr Mathers’ workmates, who initially thought he was a fellow roadworker.
After helping him, they went to Mr Mathers and Joyce fled the scene “like a coward”, said Judge Simon Hammond.
He later caught a taxi and went to his girlfriend’s home in Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, where he was arrested the next day.
A blood test back calculation revealed he would have had about 240 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The limit is 80 milligrammes.
At an earlier hearing, Joyce had admitted aggravated vehicle taking of a Vauxhall Astra van, which was driven dangerously and caused the death of Mr Mathers.
He also admitted driving when unfit through drink.
Yesterday, Philip Gibbs, mitigating for Joyce, said: “He was planning to stay overnight and doesn’t know why he changed his plan.
“Drink utterly derailed his thinking process. Like many in this court he can’t understand his actions and doesn’t seek to defend them.”