Case Study

Two cyclists killed by car in Purley on Thames

Incident date: 
Thu, 13 Feb 2014

Two cyclists were killed when they were struck by a car after police were called to a village.

Officers were responding to a “fear-for-welfare” call in Purley Rise, Purley on Thames, West Berkshire, at about 21:00 GMT on Thursday February 13th.

A black BMW related to the call-out struck the cyclists, who both died at the scene, Thames Valley Police said. The driver was later arrested.

The incident is believed to have occurred during a suspected police pursuit.

Bill Ayling, a councillor on Purley on Thames Parish Council, said he was “absolutely shocked” to hear of the deaths. He added: “I know the road very well. It is well lit at night and it’s up on a hill.”

Parish council chairman Rick Jones said: “It’s a shock. It’s a very quiet village normally.”

Anyone who witnessed the collision or saw the BMW beforehand is asked to contact police.

A local resident said he saw the victims on the ground outside his house.

He added: “The car rolled over and ended up outside the house and someone was being cut out of it.

  • UPDATE (17/02/14)

The riders have been named locally as father-of-two John Moorland, 30, and father-of-five Kris Jarvis, 39.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the scene.

Police said the driver of the BMW, 31-year-old Alexander Farrar Walters, from Purley on Thames, sustained minor injuries and was taken to Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

Walters has been charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, one count of aggravated vehicle taking, one count of driving while disqualified, and one count of using a vehicle without insurance.

He will appear before Reading Magistrates’ Court on Monday February 17th.

  • UPDATE (18/02/14)

The driver appeared in court charged with causing the deaths of the two men by dangerous driving.

The devastated widow of Mr Jarvis, Tracey, 38, from west Reading, paid tribute to her “caring and generous” husband, who worked for Reading Borough Council as a waste support officer. The couple’s children are aged between nine and 19.

Speaking outside court, she said her husband enjoyed “all aspects of cycling”, both on and off road, and had been a keen charity fundraiser for organisations such as the British Heart Foundation.

She said in a statement: “Kris was known by his friends and loved ones as a caring and generous gentleman with a larger than life character.

“He was always the first to help anyone in need and was often the first to be called on by family, friends and neighbours when things went wrong.

“The sudden tragic death of Kris has left a deep hole in the lives of all who knew him, he will be sorely missed.”

The family of father of two Mr Morland did not make a comment after the hearing.

Walter was remanded in custody by Reading magistrates to reappear at Reading crown court on March 3.

  • UPDATE (07/03/14)

Walters appeared at Reading crown court to be formally charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, one count of aggravated vehicle taking, one count of driving while disqualified and one count of using a vehicle without insurance.

Walter was remanded in custody to appear at the same court on Wednesday, April 16.

  • UPDATE (22/04/14)

Walter has been sentenced to ten years and three months in prison.

Alexander Farrar Walter, 31, of Purley on Thames, Berkshire, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving of John Morland, 30, and 39-year-old Kris Jarvis in February this year.

He pleaded guilty to seven offences at Reading Crown Court which also included aggravated vehicle-taking, driving while disqualified, and driving while uninsured.

Tests showed he had 191 mg of alcohol in 100 millitres of blood – nearly two-and-half times the legal limit – and he had also taken cocaine within the previous 24 hours. He had been driving the black convertible at around 70mph in a 30mph zone when he lost control and smashed in to the two cyclists, who were on the footpath, from behind. Walter then hit a lamp post.

The court was told that Walter had fled from police who had been alerted by his partner that he had stolen the car just minutes before the crash.

Judge John Reddihough told Walter that “two completely innocent young men and with families” were killed as a result of your “thoughtless, selfish and dangerous actions”.

The court was also told that he had appeared in court on 14 occasions over 67 offences which ranged from obtaining property by deception, dishonesty, false representation, making a bomb hoax and that he had been disqualified from driving for four years in 2010. He should not have been back on the road behind the wheel until December this year.

Walter was sentenced to 10 years and three months for causing death by dangerous driving and aggravated vehicle taking. He was also sentenced to 12 months for each of the other offences to run concurrently.

Walter was also banned from driving for 15 years.

The grieving fiancees of the two men who were killed by Walter’s driving want to appeal the length of his sentence.

Hayley Lindsay, whose partner John Morland, 30, was killed along with his friend Kris Jarvis, 39, said: “It’s an absolute joke. Ten years for two people’s lives,

“I think that is appalling.

“We were never going to be happy walking out of that courtroom, but 10 years? He’ll be out in five.

Kris Jarvis’s fiancée Tracey Fidler, 38, said of the sentence: “I am not happy at all. Especially as a guy got nine years for running over a police officer yesterday and he [Walter] got 10 years for killing two people.”

She said she was shocked when she heard how many previous convictions Walter had, adding: “Hayley and I are going to appeal.”

Although victims of crime and their families cannot appeal against a sentence directly they can express their objections to the Director of Public Prosecutions who can appeal.

  • UPDATE 30/07/14

The families of the two cyclists have started a petition calling for a change in the law so that drivers convicted of causing multiple deaths by dangerous driving be given two separate sentences.

The online petition is also calling for drivers who receive a sentence for causing death by dangerous driving to be given the maximum sentence of 14 years.

Tests showed, as well as being over the drink-drive limit, Walters of Beech Road, Purley-on-Thames, had also taken cocaine within the previous 24 hours.

During the trial, Reading Crown Court heard Walters had appeared in court on 14 occasions for a total of 67 offences.

  • UPDATE (02/10/14)

Walters is due to appeal his sentence this month.

Both Mr Jarvis’ fiancée Tracey Fidler and Mr Morland’s fiancée Hayley Lindsay, campaigning to get longer sentences for fatal dangerous driving offences, are set to attend court to hear their partners’ killer make his case.

Miss Fidler, 38, said: “When we found out [last Tuesday] it just hits you and brings it all back again. It was quite a shock, when we heard he was appealing. We thought it would happen next year.

“It could go either way, but if he gets what he wants I have already asked if I can appeal.”

Reading Mayor Councillor Tony Jones met the women last week in support of the petition, which has now gained more than 22,000 signatures.

Cllr Jones, said: “It never ceases to amaze me when the reaction of people touched by great tragedy is to respond in a positive way.

“This is certainly true about Tracey and Hayley.

“There is no doubt they have made a great start with their petition and we met to discuss what else they could do achieve their goal of 100,000 signatures by the end of March next year.

  • UPDATE (16/10/2014)

The sentence has been upheld at the Court of Appeal. Mr Globe Justice rejected the sentence appeal and backed the decision of the trial judge. A Spokesman for the families of the cyclists said “They were satisfied with today’s outcome but would rather not have to come to court at all’

  • UPDATE (30/10/14)

Reading West MP Alok Sharma has secured a parliamentary debate about sentencing for dangerous driving to raise awareness of the incident. The debate will take place in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 4th November at 16:30.

Mr Sharma said: “I do not believe that the 10-year sentence received by Mr Walter was a sufficient punishment for the devastation he caused and I look forward to raising this case in Parliament to try to influence the outcome of the review currently ongoing by the Ministry of Justice.”

He continued: “Nothing will ever bring back John and Kris, but I hope that we will be successful in securing a change in the law so that in future similar cases, the punishment better fits the crime.”

The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has already committed to a review of all driving-related offences and penalties.

  • UPDATE (06/11/14)

10 MPs attended the debate into sentencing for dangerous driving offences on November 4th, all of whom were calling for tougher sentences.

Speaking in response to the debate, Minister of State for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims, Mike Penning MP, confirmed there would be an extensive public consultation on the issue of sentencing.

The Minister also confirmed that the Government will consider whether current penalties adequately reflect the nature of driving related offences.

Mr Penning said: “I will not pre-empt the review but I agree that we need to look carefully at whether the punishment fits the crime.”

Alok Sharma is seeking a longer debate into sentencing in Parliament and is due to meet with the Ministry of Justice with the families of Kris Jarvis and John Morland on December 4th.

CTC has written an article summarising the debate here –…

  • UPDATE 20/03/15

The petition has now reached 100,000 signatures. This means it will be considered for debate in he House of Commons.

After the petition reached 80,000 signatures in February, the widows of Kris and John, Tracey Fidler and Hayley Lindsay, met with the Prime Minister to lobby for tougher sentences for drivers found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

CTC's view: 

CTC understands why the families of the two cyclists want the law to change so that drivers convicted of causing death by dangerous driving receive the maximum 14 year sentence, but we do not support this call. Maximum prison sentences should be reserved for the worst cases, like this one, but should not be imposed on all drivers convicted of causing a death by dangerous driving as their driving might not have been as egregious.

We also cannot support a call for drivers convicted of causing the deaths of more than one victim to receive two consecutive sentences, as this would imply that an equally irresponsible driver who killed one victim would receive only half the sentence of a driver who killed two. We fear that this approach would result in weaker sentencing in far more cases than the number that would be strengthened by it.

We do, however, support the families in opposing the driver’s appeal. It would be a great injustice if the driver were to be released early, given the nature of his crime and his string of previous convictions.

CTC advocates the use of lifetime driving bans for the worst offenders and believes the driver in this case should have had his licence taken away from him for good, rather than just for fifteen years. That way, he would return to prison were he to ever drive again.

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