A hit and run driver who killed a former semi-professional golfer from Kings Langley was jailed for 32 months today (Thursday, November 5).
Stephen Allitt, 44, had been out drinking and taking cocaine when his Mitsubishi pick-up truck struck Nicholas Keeler (pictured) as he was cycling on Radlett Road, Aldenham, sending him flying onto the bonnet.
Allitt, who later claimed he thought he had hit an animal, drove straight home and went to bed, having left the 45-year-old victim to die alone in the road.
Prosecutor Simon Wilshire said that, on Sunday, February 11, 2018, Mr Keeler had finished a 4pm to midnight shift at the Just Eat Call Centre in Borehamwood, where he had worked for four years.
He was wearing a high-viz jacket and had his lights on as he began his usual 15-mile journey to his home in Kings Langley, which he shared with his mother.
As he rode along Radlett Road at 12.40am, he was struck from behind by Allitt’s truck.
In a statement, Allitt’s partner at the time said they had gone out to Radlett and then St Albans to celebrate a friend’s birthday. She said he had drunk alcohol, but did not appear overly drunk and that she was aware he had taken cocaine recreationally.
Moments before the collision, another driver travelling in the opposite direction said he thought Allitt’s pick-up was travelling towards him at speed and looked as if it was starting to move over into his lane.
After hearing a collision, he stopped and found Mr Keeler lying face down in the road.
Police officers examined the debris at the scene and were able to track the car to Allitt’s then home in Aldenham.
Allitt’s drink-drive test proved negative but he gave a blood reading for cocaine of 59, when the legal limit for driving is 50 – it also confirmed he’d used cannabis.
A police expert estimated he had been driving at between 51 and 61mph when the speed limit for the road is 50mph.
Allitt told the police he estimated he had drunk three to four bottles of beer and said he had not taken cocaine that night, but had done so the previous evening at home.
Allitt appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving when over the prescribed limit. He was of previous good character, but had a conviction for speeding from 2017.
In a victim personal statement read to St Albans Crown Court, Mr Keeler’s mother, Monique, said: “The person did not even have the decency to stop and stay with my son who was dying in the road. The thought he was left dying at the side of the road will always haunt me.”
Defending, Shelley Griffith said Allitt, who is not working, was “genuinely remorseful”.
Jailing Allitt and banning him from driving for four years and four months, Judge Michael Simon described Mr Keeler as a “hardworking man with everything to live for.”
He told Allitt: “Your driving was more than momentary inattention. You were driving above the speed limit. You knew you had consumed cocaine on the Friday night.
“It was utterly irresponsible behaviour in failing to stop. Despite the deployment of the airbags and damaged windscreen and you failed to report what had happened.
“Nothing Mr Keeler did contributed to the collision. The responsibility for his death is yours alone.”