Driver sent text message just seconds before killing cyclist in Bury St Edmunds crash

Alexander Martin, who killed cyclist Stephen Lawrence in Bury St Edmunds.
Credit: Suffolk Police
Alexander Martin was jailed for five years for causing death by dangerous driving. Credit: Suffolk Police

A dangerous driver who killed a cyclist had been texting on his mobile phone just seconds before the collision, a court heard.

Alexander Martin knocked cyclist Stephen Lawrence, 65, off his bike and on to the car's windscreen, before continuing for 70 metres with the bike underneath the car.

Analysis of the 31-year-old's phone showed he had sent a message on his phone just 34 seconds before he then called 999 to report the crash, which happened in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.

At Ipswich Crown Court, Martin, of Tulyar Walk in Newmarket, was jailed for five years after he was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

The crash happened about about 6pm on 12 April 2021, when Martin's Nissan Qashqai knocked Mr Lawrence down in Newmarket Road.

Mr Lawrence, who had been wearing bright orange high-visibility clothing, suffered serious injuries and died at the scene.

Prior to the collision, Martin had stopped at a nearby petrol station and had been seen looking down at something as he left the forecourt, said Suffolk Police.

Analysis of his mobile phone found that he had sent a message at most 34 seconds before the 999 call about the collision was made.

Martin denied sending the message and said the data was inaccurate - arguing that he had instead been blinded by the glare of the sun - but the jury rejected his version of events and unanimously found him guilty.

Martin's car was also found to have a broken windscreen wiper on the driver's side and a dirty, unsafe windscreen.

Sgt Mark Bassett said: “This was a tragic and completely avoidable collision, which has resulted in a loving family having a husband, father and grandfather torn away from them.

“The phone data analysis proved that Alexander Martin sent a message just prior to or at the time of the collision and we are in no doubt that the distraction caused by his phone – combined with the dirty windscreen – are the reasons why he failed to see Mr Lawrence.

“Martin has failed to show any true remorse for his actions and the devastating impact they have caused and I hope that his conviction and today’s sentence brings some comfort to Mr Lawrence’s family.

“We regularly run campaigns regarding the risks of driving and using a mobile phone because it is extremely dangerous and results in numerous collisions, some of which – as in this case – have fatal consequences.”

Martin was also disqualified from driving for five-and-a-half years and will be required to pass a new driving test.

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