Drunken driver jailed for killing cyclist on A21

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A drunken driver who knocked down and killed a cyclist and then drove on for five miles thinking it was just a badger has been jailed for seven years.

Alison Bowen was more than twice over the limit when she struck Paul Novak on the A21 at Robertsbridge in November last year.

The 61-year-old struck him with such force that her windscreen shattered and the front of her Fiat Punto was caved in but later told officers she thought she had only hit a badger.

Bowen then drove off, leaving Mr Novak’s body in the road. She continued in her wrecked car until she got to Marley Lane in Battle and crashed off the road again.

Mr Novak, 50, of West Hill Road, St Leonards, died at the scene.

Bowen, of Queen Elizabeth Close, Battle, admitted causing death by driving without due care and attention while over the drink drive limit when she appeared at Lewes Crown Court today.

She was also banned from driving for two years.

Ann Novak, Mr Novak’s mother, from Bexhill, said: “My only son Paul had his life snuffed out in seconds through no fault of his own.

“No sentence will ever be enough to take away the pain I feel that I will not get the chance to spend the rest of my life with him.

“I still cannot come to terms with the fact that Paul is no longer with us. I have been given great support by my family, friends and the police but nothing can prepare you for the death of your child and nothing takes away the sorrow.

“Paul was more relaxed and happy than he had been for years when he was taken from us. I feel robbed that I won’t get to enjoy this phase of his life with him - all because of the selfish actions of Alison Bowen.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those that stopped at the scene of the crash and tried to help Paul. Thank you to the medical staff that did everything they could to try and save his life.

“I would also like to thank the police for their hard work in investigating the tragedy, especially Sergeant Dan Pitcher and my family liaison officers PC Stuart Ball and PC David Upjohn. Their support has been fantastic.”

Crash investigators had been able to prove that Bowen was driving partially on the grass verge next to the A21 behind Mr Novak, who was cycling home south, when she struck him at about 4.30pm on 18 November.

The front of her car had suffered such severe damage that Bowen’s knuckles had been cut by the splintered windscreen rubbing against her hands as she drove on after hitting Mr Novak.

When she was breathalysed she had 85 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of her breath - more than twice the drink-drive limit.

She could not explain what had happened to Mr Novak or what had caused the damage to her car other than describing how she had heard “a bonk” and thought she had hit a badger.

Sergeant Dan Pitcher said: “Paul Novak was the innocent victim of a woman who selfishly decided to drink and then drive home.

“He had no chance to avoid Bowen or to do anything that could have saved him from her.

“Bowen was so drunk when she struck Mr Novak that she did not even know what she had done.

“After the collision she must have been able to see next to nothing out of her windscreen as the front of her car was smashed to pieces but she continued on the roads and could have easily caused more serious or even fatal accidents.

“This horrific case shows exactly why we cannot and will not tolerate any drink or drug driving in Sussex.

“There is no such thing as an acceptable amount that you can drink before driving. One drink is one drink too many, as the family of Mr Novak will testify to.”