A 25-year-old driver from High Wycombe who smashed into a cyclist and killed him had never taken a driving test, a court heard on Monday.
Liam Dellaway, whose last known address was in Booker Lane, left 68-year-old James Parsons lying in the road near his mangled bike and made off at speed with the windscreen of the car smashed and the roof dented.
His victim, who was wearing a bright yellow patterned jersey, had been out that day riding with a with a cycling group and was on his way home to his fiancée.
Moments before the crash, near the village of Ickleford in Hertfordshire, another motorist had observed the Volkswagen Golf which Dellaway was driving weaving as it drove at speed along a straight stretch of road.
In court on Monday Dellaway, an unemployed tree surgeon, said he had been reaching for a plastic coke bottle which was in footwell and he feared might roll under a pedal.
He said he hadn’t seen Mr Parsons because he was distracted reaching for the bottle and after the impact still didn’t know what he had struck.
Dellaway said he had braked but didn’t stop and then made off at speed once more telling the court: “I just panicked. I was in shock and wanted to get home.”
Judge Nigel Lithman QC, hearing the case at St Albans crown court, said he rejected Dellaway’s account about the bottle and sentenced him to six years in jail.
He told him: “You made no attempt to get help or show the remotest human concern for this man.”
Dellaway pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, causing death by driving whilst disqualified, causing death whilst uninsured, dangerous driving and two counts of making off from petrol stations without paying for fuel.
Peter Shaw, prosecuting, said it was shortly before 1pm on Thursday, September 19, last year when Dellaway drove away from Newport Pagnell Services without paying for £15 worth of fuel.
The court heard he was behind the wheel of his former girlfriend’s grey Volkswagen Golf despite the fact he had no driving licence, wasn’t insured and had never even sat a driving test.
He was intending to make his way back to High Wycombe and his route took him south down the M1.
Judge Lithman said just over an hour later the car, with the defendant at the wheel, was travelling northwards along Arlesey Road near Ickleford.
Cycling in the same direction was Mr Parsons - described as an experienced cyclist who was wearing a bright yellow top.
Shortly before the crash, Dellaway had come up at speed behind another car and then tailgated it before pulling out to overtake it, the court heard.
The driver and his wife had noticed the speed it was travelling at and the fact that as he sped away from them, the Golf appeared to “weave” in the road.
Mr Shaw said seconds later, Dellaway had travelled around a bend and the Golf smashed into the rear of Mr Parsons who was cycling home.
Mr Shaw said the absence of tyre marks before the crash show there had been no attempt to slow down prior to the car hitting Mr Parsons, who died the following day from multiple traumatic injuries.
The impact had caused Mr Parson to be thrown onto the bonnet of the car and strike the windscreen which then smashed.
Despite the damage, Dellaway drove off at speed - and just seconds later overtook two vehicles and a bus.
As Dellaway drove through Letchworth, pedestrians noticed the damage to the Golf and its smashed windscreen and damaged roof.
From Letchworth, Dellaway made his way south to the South Mimms Service Station where he committed another bilking offence - this time for £30 worth of petrol.
Even on the M25 as he made his way to High Wycombe, Dellaway tailgated other drivers.
Mr Shaw said later that day he sold the Golf for a “knock down” price of £500 after telling the buyer the damage to the vehicle had been caused by men wielding baseball bats.
He was arrested by police on October 19 last year.
The court heard despite never have taken a driving test it hadn’t stopped Dellaway driving and over the years he had committed a number of driving offences.
He had also committed a previous offence of making off without payment and travelling on the railway without paying for a ticket.
Defending, Mr Justin Rivett said: “He bitterly regrets and rues the day he drove that vehicle in the manner he did.
“He clearly did not see Mr Parsons on a long straight stretch of road. Clearly, he must have been distracted. He accepts he was going too fast and not paying attention.”
Judge Lithman jailed Dellaway for six years and banned him from driving for six years.
He was told he would also have to take an extended driving test before he can get behind the wheel of a car again.