Drink driver jailed following fatal collision in Knutsford
A drink driver who killed a cyclist in Knutsford and then fled the scene has been jailed for eight years.
Melissa Darbyshire was found guilty at Chester Crown Court of death by careless driving while over the legal alcohol limit.
The 33-year-old, of Toft Road, Knutsford, had earlier admitted a charge of death by careless driving. The charges relate to a collision outside Cottons Hotel on Manchester Road, near Knutsford, shortly after 10pm on Sunday 4 September 2016.
Darbyshire had been out drinking at a friend’s house in Mere. She left the address at approximately 10pm. While driving back to her house in Knutsford Darbyshire collided with Miroslaw Chlap, 48, a chef at Cottons Hotel. He had only just begun cycling home to Knutsford at time of the collision. The impact was so severe that Mr Chlap flew off his bike onto a nearby embankment.
The collision shattered the windscreen of Darbyshire’s Volkswagen Amorak and caused extensive damage to the front nearside of the car.
Rather than stopping at the scene and reporting the incident to the police, Darbyshire continued to drive home.
Shortly before 10.20pm another motorist contacted police to report that he had collided with a bicycle on Manchester Road. Officers attended and on arrival they discovered Mr Chlap’s bike along with debris from a Volkswagen Amorak.
Mr Chlap was found at the side of the road. Sadly, despite the best efforts of police and ambulance staff, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
An investigation was immediately launched and within an hour of the initial call officers had established that Darbyshire had been driving on Manchester Road at the time of the collision. Officers attended her home, where they discovered the damaged car on the driveway.
They repeatedly knocked on the door. There was no response so they forced entry into the address.
On entering they discovered Darbyshire in a disheveled state. Her speech was slurred and she smelt heavily of alcohol. She was arrested on suspicion of death by dangerous driving, drink driving and failing to stop after a collision.
On arrival in custody officers conducted a breath test which had a reading of 88 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres – more than double the legal limit of 35 micrograms. Darbyshire was subsequently charged with a number of offences.
She was sentenced at to eight years in prison at Chester Crown Court today, Monday 30 July. Darbyshire was also banned from driving for nine years.
Following the sentencing Roads Policing Officer Cath Hilton said: “Throughout this investigation Darbyshire has denied that she was drunk at the time of the collision. She also claimed she did not realise she had collided with Mr Chlap, despite the expensive damage to her car.
“It was only when she appeared in court that she finally pleaded guilty to death by careless driving, but even then she continued to deny she was drunk, instead claiming that she’d had a drink after returning home. Thankfully the jury saw through her lies and she is now facing the consequences of her actions.I hope that the sentence handed to Darbyshire will provide some comfort to Mr Chlap’s family and help them move forward with their lives, following what has been a long and extremely traumatic period.”
Roads Policing Inspector Liz Cunningham said: “What happened on that night was entirely preventable. Darbyshire chose to drive her vehicle having consumed a significant amount of alcohol; this clearly impaired her ability to drive safely. Mr Chlap was commuting home on his bicycle, he had his lights on and he was positioned correctly on the road. Darbyshire collided with Mr Chlap causing him to be thrown from his bike; the impact also instantly caused noticeable damage to her vehicle. However, she chose to flee the scene rather than trying to help Mr Chlap. The sentence imposed today reflects the fact that Darbyshire caused the death of an innocent man and went on to flee the scene in a callous attempt to cover up her drink driving.”