Driver jailed for Pc cycle crash
Published 28/09/2012 | 11:52
A man has been jailed for 15 months after seriously injuring a police officer in a hit-and-run.
Mitchel Graham, 26, was sentenced after admitting dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, and failing to report an accident in which Pc Diederik Coetzee suffered serious head injuries.
The 55-year-old Nottinghamshire police officer, who was given the nickname RoboCop for his work on an estate in Nottingham, was cycling to a gym in Blidworth near Mansfield while off duty when he was hit last November.
Sentencing Graham at Nottingham Crown Court, Judge Jonathan Teare said: "You ploughed into him, throwing him into your windscreen and propelling him no less than 24 metres. You stopped for a moment, then drove off, knowing you had hit a cyclist, caring not when you left him whether he live or die."
Pc Coetzee was found in the middle of the road with serious head injuries after the collision on Blidworth Lane last November.
The officer, who made headlines in 2005 after making hundreds of arrests in a year patrolling Nottingham's Ladywood estate on his bike, spent six months in hospital and is still receiving rehabilitation treatment.
The court heard the 55-year-old, who joined Nottinghamshire Police in 2001, is in a wheelchair and has problems with mobility. He has no recollection of the incident.
The car Graham was driving was in an extremely poor and dangerous condition, prosecutor Paul Stimson told the court. There were defects with the drive shaft, exhaust and brakes and the tyres were worn and underinflated. The nearside headlamp and windscreen wipers were not working and the demisting system was faulty, the court heard. The car however was insured and had an MOT.
Graham, of Blidworth, Nottingham, told police he had a significantly limited view of the road ahead and could only see to the end of his bonnet on the night of the incident. Sentencing him, the judge said: "I accept you were not driving erratically or at high speed but your fault was perhaps more because you knew that your car was in a dangerous condition. It was dark and your visibility to your nearside was nil. You were effectively almost driving blind that night."
Following the sentencing, Pc Coetzee's family thanked people for their support since the incident. In a statement released by Nottinghamshire Police, they said: "This has been the most testing time for us as a family. Not only do we value and appreciate the selflessness of our loving father and husband, but so do the wider community of Mansfield and the police community, both local and afar. They obviously see the same valued qualities in him that we do."