Page last updated at 11:57 GMT, Friday, 10 October 2008 12:57 UK

Cyclist's drunk killer is jailed

Simon Gatier
Simon Gatier was called "cowardly" by the judge

A drunk taxi driver who killed a cyclist in Hertfordshire after telling a colleague he was "totally smashed" has been jailed for seven years.

Neil Smith, 43, was cycling home in Welwyn Garden City in November when he was hit by a BMW. He died the next day.

He had been wearing high visibility clothing and had lights on his bike.

Simon Gatier, 41, of Salisbury Gardens was found guilty at St Albans Crown Court of dangerous driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Judge John Plumstead said: "I can't bring back Neil Smith who was an entirely responsible man who went to college, worked with his hands, and was someone who qualified as an electrician and made something of his life.

"He was sober and was smashed into as he went along the yellow lines of the road - dressed as brightly as he could be with his lights on."

Neil Smith
I can't bring back Neil Smith.. who made something of his life
Judge John Plumstead

The judge went on to describe Gatier as a "thoughtless, cowardly man who was driving too quickly" on a wet road at night.

Police traced Gatier's car three days after the crash, but at the same time he went to Hatfield police station, and said: "There is no way I could have missed him."

The court heard a work colleague said he had told her hours beforehand: "I can only ask you these questions because I am totally smashed."

Gatier, who has been a taxi driver in Welwyn Garden City for over 20 years, claimed the cyclist rode out in front of him from the pavement on Bridge Road East.

He was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving while under the influence of drink or drugs.

He has a previous conviction for drink-driving from 21 years ago.

Gatier was banned from driving for seven years.

Cyclist dies after car collision
02 Dec 07 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Man quizzed over cyclist's death
04 Dec 07 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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