'Justice served' - Family react after HGV driver jailed over cyclist death
- Credit: Archant/Suffolk Police
The family of an elderly cyclist who was killed by a HGV driver say that justice has been served following a two and a half year legal ordeal.
On Friday, December 10, Gediminas Nagulevicius, 38, was sentenced to 12 months in prison after killing Sheila Holmes, 74, in what was described by the judge as a "wholly avoidable" crash at a junction near her home.
Mr Nagulevicius was driving a Renault HGV pulling an unladen tanker trailer in Bungay on May 28, 2019, when he failed to see the great-grandmother, 74, on her bike.
Nagulevicius was travelling on the B1062 when he got to the Hillside Road junction with St John's Road around 2.30pm, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Mrs Holmes, who was wearing a bright red coat, was travelling along the A144 when she was struck and was killed as a result of the collision.
Reacting to the sentencing, Mrs Holmes' daughter, Karen Holmes, said: "It is now two and a half years since the untimely death of our mum and we are relieved to have reached the end of a lengthy and difficult legal process.
"We are satisfied with the sentence which was handed down by the judge on Friday, after a detailed and thorough summing up and feel that justice has been served.
"We were particularly pleased that the judge considered our mum to be “blameless“ and that he recognised the lifelong pain and suffering caused to family members by the driver’s actions."
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Sentencing Nagulevicius on Friday, Judge Martyn Levett told him: "I conclude your attention must have been focused on other things, whether the cars approaching from your left, whether you failed to look right again before pulling forward, whether you didn’t stop at the junction but risked not stopping and carelessly continued to cross the road."
Nagulevicius, of Greenland Avenue, King's Lynn, previously denied a more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving, and a trial was set to take place.
But at a further case management hearing in November, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving, which was accepted by prosecutors.
Nagulevicius repeatedly told people who stopped to help at the scene: "I don't know where she came from."
Prosecuting during the case, Andrew Jackson, said Mr Nagulevicius told people he stopped at the junction but could not see her.
During the trial last week, the court heard that there were no defects on the vehicle and there was no evidence Nagulevicius had been using his mobile phone at the time of the crash.
Nagulevicius had been an HGV driver since 2013 and moved to the UK in 2007.
Mr Jackson told the court: "The prosecution case is that he exercised neither care or attention and because he failed to do these fundamental things, he simply did not see Mrs Holmes."
He added: "The failure to look properly renders this a particularly serious case."
The family described how their lives have been "changed forever" by the tragic incident and the "horrific and agonising loss" of their much-loved mother and grandmother.
"There are no winners in this situation; there are now two families who are missing a loved one this Christmas," Karen Holmes said.
"As a family, we implore all drivers approaching the junction at Cemetery Corner, especially those of HGVs, to exercise extreme care so that there is never another “wholly avoidable collision“ like that which killed our wonderful mum."
Judge Levett added: "This case is a lesson for every driver of an HGV, whether experienced or in training.
"These types of road user now has a warning about the dangers which exist when approaching a main road from a side road junction and the significant risk taken by not stopping or keeping a very careful lookout for others."
Nagulevicius was jailed for 12 months and will have to serve half of his sentence before his release on licence.
He was also banned from driving for three years and six months.