Lorry driver jailed for Hayfield hit and run

Wayne Salmon. Photo contributed.
Wayne Salmon. Photo contributed.

A lorry driver has been jailed for 16 weeks for a hit and run which left a Hayfield cyclist in a three-week coma.

Gustave French, known as Gus, suffered a fractured skull, neck, spine and pelvis, punctured his lung and liver and lost his right ear in the collision in Hayfield on February 2.

Gus French. Photo contributed.

Gus French. Photo contributed.

High Peak Magistrates said on Monday it was the worst traffic offence that they had ever heard in the Buxton court.

Wayne Salmon, who was driving a 7.5-tonne MAN box van at 33 miles per hour, said he was dazzled by the sun and didn’t see the victim cycling in the same direction on the A624 Chapel Road near Newhouse Farm at 9.18am.

Mr French was struck by the front near side corner of the large goods vehicle and was thrown into the road.

Witnesses said after the incident they saw the van slow down before accelerating away.

Gus French. Photo contributed.

Gus French. Photo contributed.

Prosecutor Jennifer Fitzgerald told the court that the 56-year-old casualty was airlifted to Wythenshawe Hospital and remained unconscious for three weeks.

He is now in a serious condition in Salford Royal, suffering from post traumatic amnesia and semi-paralysis.

Salmon, 52, of Birkin Avenue, Nottingham, said he heard a bang and thought he had hit a wall.

Witnesses said they caught up with the defendant in Chinley and informed him he had hit a cyclist. He shrugged and reacted with indifference.

The delivery driver admitted driving with out due care and attention and failing to stop after a road accident.

Tracey French, the victim’s wife, said she was told by medical staff after the incident that her husband was unlikely to survive from his injuries.

She told the court, since awaking from his coma, he can’t move his right side and some days he does not know who she is.

“He was an intelligent, articulate man, extremely sociable and greatly respected in the community. Since the collision, his thought process has become disjointed,” said Mrs French.

The court heard Mr French, an electrical contractor, was also a keen cyclist and fell runner.

“I feel a grief that’s never ending. It’s as if Gus has been taken away and I don’t know when he’ll return. I feel very protective of this very vulnerable, frail man. He was a very charismatic man, so enthusiastic about life, his health and fitness and he loved the outdoors, ” added Mrs French.

She went on to say that the driver couldn’t have missed her husband as he had a fluorescent green bike and trainers and he was six-foot two.

“I cannot understand what happened that day. We cannot forgive the driver. He’s damaged his body, taken away his spirit and his future, he’s mentally and physically scarred.”

Addressing the defendant she said: “The real sentence for Gus and is life long. Wayne Salmon you were told what you had done and you chose to leave Gus in the road to die.”

Saul Comish, defending, said his client deeply regretted his actions and had expressed remorse.

Chairman of the bench Mr Hickman said: “This is the worst traffic offence I’ve ever heard in this court. The bench are appalled at the way you reacted on the day. All of this was avoidable.”

Salmon was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, the maximum which could be imposed, and was disqualified from driving for five years.