A LORRY driver who killed a charity cyclist from the Capital after falling asleep at the wheel has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years.
Andrew McMenigall was 40 miles into a 960-mile Land’s End to John O’Groats fundraising ride when he and Toby Wallace were hit by Robert Palmer’s lorry.
The pair, who worked for Aberdeen Asset Management (AAM), were killed instantly when they were struck on the A30 in Newquay, Cornwall, on July 2 last year.
Palmer, 32, was sent to prison yesterday after admitting two charges of causing death by dangerous driving during an earlier hearing at Truro Crown Court.
The nighttime delivery driver for Frys Logistics Ltd hadn’t slept during the day because he was repairing vehicles for the firm.
He was also habitually using his iPhone to send text messages while carrying out deliveries for discount store Lidl between Cornwall and Weston-super-Mare, the court heard.
Following the sentence, the widows of the two men issued a statement saying they were devastated at the loss of their husbands, who were “exceptional and giant men” and said it was a tragedy so many families were left mourning loved ones killed on Britain’s roads.
Anne McMenigall and Claire Wallace said: “UK transport laws are lenient, charges are difficult and onerous to attain and less and less resource is being dedicated to collisions.”
After the crash, Palmer, from Bude, Cornwall, told police that having finished an identical shift the previous day, he had slept up until 6.30pm.
But investigations proved this was a lie and he had in fact worked on maintenance at the Frys Logistics depot until 3pm before returning home for a few hours’ sleep.
“During the period of 36 hours before the collision on July 2 he had failed to take sufficient rests,” prosecutor Philip Lee told the court.
Between 5pm on June 30 and 6am on July 1, Palmer had sent more than 150 text messages, the court heard.
In one text exchange about his lack of sleep, Palmer said: “I’ve survived so far.”
And on July 1, he texted: “Worked till 3pm had about three hours’ kip. Now back on Lidl run.”
Jailing the father-of-one, Judge Christopher Harvey Clark QC said: “You should not have been driving at all at that time. You failed to ensure that you took sufficient rests. People should not drive when they are feeling very sleepy or as you were, totally exhausted.”
Mr McMenigall, 47, and Mr Wallace, 36, took on the bike ride to raise money for the Kirsten Scott Memorial Trust, which provides opportunities for young people. Kirsten was a colleague at AAM who lost her fight against cancer just five weeks after she was diagnosed.
Mr McMenigall was also raising money for It’s Good 2 Give, an Edinburgh-based charity that offers support to young people with cancer. One of his own daughters had been diagnosed with a brain tumour from which she recovered.