Drink-drive victim's anger over sentence

A VICTIM who was knocked from his bicycle by an uninsured driver today spoke of his disappointment after the man was spared a jail sentence.

By NICK COLLINS

nick.collins@eveningstar.co.uk>

A VICTIM who was knocked from his bicycle by an uninsured driver today spoke of his disappointment after the man was spared a jail sentence.

David Ruddock, a self-employed music teacher, revealed how he lost £2,500 in earnings after the accident and will not be able to drive to teach his pupils at their homes until February at the earliest.

But provisional licence holder Christopher Gardiner, who fled the scene after knocking Mr Ruddock with his wing mirror, has been banned from driving for just a year and avoided a custodial sentence.

Mr Ruddock said: “In proportion, is the punishment fair? My wife and I both feel that he is very lucky to avoid prison.

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“Unless police are keeping a 24-hour watch on him, how will a disqualification be properly checked?

“We both feel that in this case he should have had a custodial sentence.”

His wife Beverley said: “I want Christopher Gardiner to know the hell he has put us through - it is nothing less than a miracle that my David is alive today.

“An apology from Mr Gardiner, or at least an enquiry as to my husband's wellbeing might have been, and still would be, appropriate.”

She added: “We would like to thank all the staff at both Ipswich and Addenbrooke's hospitals and the police - particularly PC Paul Smith.”

Gardiner, 22, of Rydal Walk, Ipswich, pleaded guilty on November 14 to failing to stop after an accident, driving without due care and attention, and driving without insurance or a valid license.

He was given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for a year, meaning he will not serve his time as long as he does not re-offend for 12 months.

Gardiner will have to perform 120 hours of unpaid community service and will be subjected to a 12-month supervision order, as well as paying a total of £670, plus £43 legal costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Of this fee, only £300 will be paid as compensation to Mr Ruddock.

Mr Ruddock was left with life-threatening injuries, including bleeding on the brain, when he was knocked from his bike by the white Vauxhall Combo van driven by Gardiner on October 23.

Ian Duckworth, mitigating, said Gardiner had come across some friends in a pub by chance and agreed to drive two of them to Chantry because the man who was meant to be driving was too drunk.

He hit Mr Ruddock as he tried to overtake while rounding a traffic island in Ellenbrook Road, Ipswich.

Is the sentence fair? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk