A DELIVERY man whose careless driving cost the life of a Beaconsfield cyclist was today banned from getting behind the wheel.
Van driver Paul Luker, 51, crashed into the back of RAF man Tomas Barrett, 44, on a three-lane section of the A40 last year.
Luker was sentenced to a 12-month driving ban and a 12-month community order involving 100 hours of unpaid work.
Harrow Crown Court heard the accident had been ‘devastating’ for Group Captain Barrett’s family.
In a statement read to the court, his wife Sophie said: “Not having Tomas anymore has been a complete loss to me. I feel as if my life has been turned upside down and I don’t have any direction.”
She said his death had also left a “massive gap” for their two daughters, aged 11 and ten.
Swedish-born Group Captain Barrett, of Amersham Road, Beaconsfield, was the station commander at RAF Northolt and was awarded an OBE in 2008 for his operational work.
He had fought in Afghanistan and Iraq and also served as aide-de-camp to the Queen, chaperoning her on tours.
His dad Anthony said he had been the “driving force” of the family, adding: “A very special light has gone out in all our lives and it can never be rekindled.”
Group Captain Barrett had been cycling home on March 10 last year when the accident happened, on a ‘motorway type’ section of the A40 Western Avenue.
Luker, who was found guilty of causing death by careless driving last month, told jurors he was not expecting to see a cyclist on the road, which is subject to the national speed limit.
Though there is a cycle lane next to that stretch of road, separated by a grass verge, the court heard Group Captain Barrett was "perfectly entitled" to be cycling on the main carriageway.
Luker, of Beaconsfield Road, Farnham Royal, said he had been dazzled by a low sun just before the accident, but could not explain why he failed to see the cyclist.
He told police interviewers: "I lay in bed thinking night after night is there anything I did see or didn’t see. I weren’t even looking for a cyclist...I thought there’s no way there would be a cyclist on the road when there’s a cycle lane."
Judge John Anderson told Luker: “The consequences of your driving were terrible as the heart-rending impact statements show.”
But he was “quite satisfied that this offence arose out of your momentary inattention without any aggravating factors and falls into the lowest category”.
He said Luker was a man of good character and added: “I’m satisfied that the deep remorse that you obviously feel, has had, and continues to have, a profound effect on your mental well-being.”
Luker told reporters afterwards: “I agree with the sentence and I’m going to do it.”
See related links for our previous stories on the case.