Man sentenced after fatal collision in Dorchester

A motorist who killed a cyclist on the B3147 near Dorchester has been banned from driving for two years.

Derek Cheney, 63 and of Stratton near Dorchester, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving. He was sentenced at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court today, Friday 4 December 2015.

He was told he will have to take an extended re-test after his driving ban has finished before he would be considered for a new licence. He was also made the subject of a six-month curfew in which he will have to stay at home between 9pm and 6am and he will be required to wear a tag.

The collision happened at 6.43pm on Thursday 8 January 2015 on the B3147 between the Weirs roundabout and Loders garage.

Paul Miller (pictured), 46 and from Dorchester, was cycling toward the town when he was struck from behind by a black-coloured Fiat car travelling in the same direction.

Sadly, he sustained fatal injuries and died at the scene.

Paul was cycling home from St Andrew’s Primary School in Yetminster where he was a popular headteacher.

Police Constable Craig Redmond, of Dorset Police’s Traffic Unit, said: “Paul was cycling home, wearing high visibility clothing and lights on his bicycle, but sadly Mr Cheney’s lack of awareness for other road users led to this tragic and avoidable collision.

“I would like to remind all motorists to be aware of other road users and give themselves plenty of time to respond to any obstacles ahead.

“Had Mr Cheney done this, Paul would still be alive today.”

In a statement, Paul’s wife Andrea Miller said: “On the night of 8 January 2015 my husband Paul was offered a lift home from work by a friend who works at the school. He turned down this offer as he loved his cycle home. It helped him to relax and seemed to be an excellent way to build exercise into his daily routine.

“Although it was dark, he was not concerned. He took cycling safety and visibility very seriously, as any of his school students will tell you: he often walked around the school in his high vis jacket, which even had a built in rear light which flashed, as well as always using a rear light on his bike.

“I have driven behind him in the dark on several occasions and he was so highly visible that I had no fears for his safety. The route was one he had ridden many times before without incident. The road where he was killed was straight.

“The police investigation found that there were seven seconds of full visibility of the road ahead, with no oncoming traffic, in which the driver should have seen Paul on his bike and overtaken him safely, preventing tragedy and heartbreak.

“It was Paul’s 47th birthday on the following day and we planned to go out for a meal to celebrate. What happened instead was a nightmare that has continued ever since.

“Paul was a highly devoted husband, father, son and brother. He was a loyal friend. He saw the best in everyone and brought out the best in those around him. He was an excellent and inspirational headteacher.

“Teaching was a vocation for him and he was passionate about providing children with a school environment in which every single child would feel valued and safe. He saw the potential in every student he ever taught and tributes to him have poured in from many of his former as well as current students.

“Paul’s passions included cycling, listening to music and rugby, but what mattered most to him was his family and we were blessed with many years of extremely happy family life. He counted his blessings, frequently reminding us how lucky we all were to have this happy, settled family life in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

“This year would have been our 20th wedding anniversary. Without Paul, it feels like the heart has been ripped out of our family. It is impossible to express how much we miss him.”

Issued: 4 December 2015

Paul Miller
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