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A338 hit-and-run death driver caught by eagle-eyed police

Driver Kevin Johnson (pictured) struck Christopher Gibbs on the A338
Driver Kevin Johnson (pictured) struck Christopher Gibbs on the A338

A COURIER who killed a cyclist he ploughed into on the A338 Spur Road near Ringwood was caught out after an eagle-eyed police officer spotted his van on a recovery truck.

Kevin Johnson (58) left the scene in his damaged vehicle after colliding with Christopher Gibbs on the dual carriageway and called the truck when he stopped at a nearby hotel, Bournemouth Crown Court heard.

But he was traced after an officer at the crash scene helping oversee the resultant road closures spotted the truck carrying the damaged van on the opposite carriageway and notified colleagues.

The defendant, of Sandleford Lodge Park in Thatcham, Berkshire, was driving a white coloured Mercedes Citan van for his job on Tuesday 3rd October last year, the court heard.

While travelling on the nearside south lane of the A338 at around 10.15pm his vehicle collided with Mr Gibbs’ bicycle – which had both its front and rear lights illuminated. Mr Gibbs, who was 30 and from Poole, died at the scene as a result of his injuries.

The court was told Johnson’s windscreen was shattered on the passenger side, and the bonnet, passenger side wing mirror, wing and bumper were damaged.

He stopped at the scene but drove off a shortly after and his vehicle was captured on CCTV as Johnson journeyed to Applewood Hotel in Bournemouth.

When he arrived there about half an hour after the fatal collision Johnson was seen getting out of the van and wiping the front of it.

He called a GRS recovery truck, which picked his van up and drove past the crash scene heading north towards the Ashley Heath roundabout.

It was spotted by the eagle-eyed officer, who notified the force control room.

Officers traced the recovery truck and attended a garage workshop in Southampton the following day at 6.20am, finding the damaged van and arresting the defendant.

A piece of bloodstained tissue discovered in the driver’s door pocket of the van was forensically examined and found to contain Mr Gibbs’ blood, the court heard.

Victim Christopher Gibbs, a cyclist from Poole
Victim Christopher Gibbs, a cyclist from Poole

In their investigation police analysed Johnson’s electronic devices and found internet searches on road closures and traffic information in Bournemouth after the incident and before his arrest.

During police interviews Johnson said he believed he hit a deer and had he thought it was a cyclist he would have stopped and reported the matter.

He appeared in court having pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Johnson was given an 18-month ban from driving and ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid community work.

Insp. Joe Pardey, of Dorset Police’s traffic unit, said after the case: “This was a tragic incident that cost the life of a young man and my thoughts remain with Mr Gibbs' family and friends.

“Kevin Johnson's decision to leave the scene without reporting the matter to police could be considered as morally indefensible. I would like to praise the officer who spotted the vehicle that led to us quickly identifying the man responsible and allowed us to bring him before the courts.”

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