Woman driver who killed teenage cyclist while texting is jailed for four years

Last updated at 10:18 01 March 2008

A driver who was sending a text when she hit and killed a teenage cyclist was starting a four-year prison term last night.

Hotel manager Kiera Coultas, 25, was replying to a message when she hit 19-year-old labourer Jordan Wickington.

The teenager, who was not wearing a helmet, had cycled through a red light. Coultas was doing 45mph in a 30mph zone when she drove across the junction and hit him.

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Coultas, who has a four-year-old daughter, did not see the cyclist because she was replying to a text from her estranged husband, Southampton Crown Court heard.

Mr Wickington, from Netley Abbey in Hampshire, died in hospital just hours after the accident at 7am on February 7 last year.

The court heard that Coultas, from nearby Hythe, had previously received three tickets for speeding.

Coultas denied one count of causing death by dangerous driving over the incident but was found guilty by a jury last month.

Judge Jeremy Burford QC yesterday sentenced her to four years in jail and disqualified her from driving for five years.

He said: "The serious part of your conduct was that you were sending a text on your mobile phone.

"It occurred at precisely the worst time because you failed to see the cyclist who was crossing the road having gone through the red light - and travelling as you were at 45mph you hit him and he suffered injuries from which he later died."

He accepted that Coultas suffered "shock and remorse" and "severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder" after the crash.

Daniel Hickman, 32, Jordan's half-brother, provided a victim impact statement to the court.

"The major thing is knowing that whatever happens in my life from this point onwards... Jordan is not there to share the moment," he said.

"He is always in my mind and any happiness I feel in my life is dampened by the fact my brother has gone at such a young age.

"It's like having a part of you taken away."

He added outside court that he had sympathy for Coultas's family, but said: "We have to temper that with the fact that we have lost someone.

"She will come out and have the chance to carry on her life, but Jordan has gone for ever."

Jordan's mother, Christine, 58, used her statement to describe the moment she was told her teenage son was not expected to live.

"Our lives changed forever," she said.

"As I held his hand and stroked his face as he slipped away, I felt as if someone had reached inside and ripped out part of my heart and soul."

At the family home yesterday, Mrs Wickington added: "No phone call or text message can be more important than a person's life.

"When you are using a phone, you are not paying full attention to what is going on around you and you are ultimately playing with lives.

"Kiera Coultas did not go out that morning looking to kill somebody. But if sending her to jail sends a strong message to others and they think twice before using their phone while driving, then I think sadly it may serve a purpose.

"I would hate to think of any other family going through what we have. It is such a waste of a life."

By law, anyone caught using a mobile phone while driving receives a £60 fine and three points on their licence.

Despite this, 45 per cent of drivers in a recent survey admitted texting at the wheel.

Mrs Wickington added: "The law needs to be tightened.

"People caught using a mobile phone should be banned for a year, forced to re-sit their test and brought to my home to see first-hand how carelessness ruins lives."

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