Hit-and-run driver who killed cyclist as he drove home from night out after taking cocaine is jailed

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A coked-up hit-and-run driver who left a former semi-professional golfer to die alone in a road has been jailed for almost three years. 

Stephen Allitt, 44, had been out drinking and taking cocaine when his Mitsubishi pick-up truck smashed into Nicholas Keeler, sending him flying on to the bonnet. 

Allitt, who claimed he had hit an animal, drove straight home and went to bed - leaving the 45-year-old victim to die alone in the road.  

In a victim personal statement read to St Albans crown court, Mr Keeler's mother Monique said: 'The person did not even have the decency to stop and stay with my son who was dying in the road. The thought he was left dying at the side of the road will always haunt me.' 

Prosecutor Simon Wilshire said that, on Sunday February 11, 2018, Mr Keeler had finished a 4pm to midnight shift at the Just Eat Call Centre in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, where he had worked for four years and cycled home.

Stephen Allitt, 44, had been out drinking and taking cocaine when his Mitsubishi pick-up truck smashed into Nicholas Keeler (pictured), sending him flying on to the bonnet

He was wearing a high-viz jacket and had his lights on as he began his usual 15-mile journey to his home in Kings Langley that he shared with his mother. 

While cycling down Radlett Road in Aldenham, he was struck by Allitt's truck at 12.40am.   

Allitt's partner at the time said they had gone out to Radlett and then St Albans to celebrate a friend's birthday. She said he had drunk alcohol, but did not appear overly drunk. She said she was aware he had taken cocaine recreationally.

Moments before the collision, another driver travelling in the opposite direction said he thought Allitt's pick-up was travelling towards him at speed and looked as if it was starting to move over into his lane.

After hearing a collision, he stopped and found Mr Keeler lying face down in the road.

Mr Wilshire said the police examined the debris at the scene and were able to track the car to Allitt's then home in Aldenham. 

He told the officers who arrested him at 1.25pm the next day: 'I thought it was a deer or something.'

Allitt, who claimed he had hit an animal, drove straight home and went to bed - leaving the 45-year-old victim to die alone in the road (pictured, Radlett Road in Aldenham)

Allitt's drink drive test proved negative but he gave a blood reading for cocaine of 59, when the legal limit for driving is 50. 

'It confirmed he had used cocaine at some point and he had also used cannabis,' said Mr Wilshire.

A police expert estimated he had been driving at between 51 and 61 mph when the speed limit for the road is 50mph. 

Even if the victim had not been wearing high viz clothing, he would have been visible for 75 meters, he said.

In an interview, Allitt said: 'I thought it was an animal. I just went home and straight to bed.'

He said he had walked to the scene in the morning and realised things were worse than he thought. Allitt told the police he estimated he had drunk three or four bottles of beer. He said he had not taken cocaine that night, but had done so the previous evening at home.

Allitt was jailed for 32 months at St Albans Crown Court (pictured) and was banned from driving for four years and four months

Allitt, from Mountfield Road, Finchley, appeared for sentencing having pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving when over the prescribed limit. He was of previous good character, but had a conviction for speeding from 2017.

Defending, Shelley Griffith said Allitt, who is not working, was 'genuinely remorseful'. He said: 'He did not see Mr Keeler and cannot explain why.'

Jailing Allitt for 32 months and banning him from driving for four years and four months, Judge Michael Simon described Mr Keeler as a 'hardworking man with everything to live for.'

He told Allitt: 'For reasons unclear, you did not see him in his high visibility jacket, with his lights and reflectors on. You could not have been in any doubt of the seriousness of the accident.

'Your driving was more than momentary inattention. You were driving above the speed limit. You knew, on your case, you had consumed Cocaine on the Friday night.

'It was utterly irresponsible behaviour in failing to stop. Despite the deployment of the airbags and damaged windscreen and you failed to report what had happened even though you walked past the scene the next morning.

'Nothing Mr Keeler did contributed to the collision. The responsibility for his death is yours alone.'

In earlier tributes it was reported that Mr Keeler was an environmentalist who picked up litter in his spare time.

His mother said: 'He would go through three or four bikes a year because of the mileage. He loved his work and enjoyed being with people. Every night when he came home from work he was in a good mood.'

His nephew Rob Lloyd said: 'He loved the eighties. He liked his flares and even wore them to work. He was colourful, there is no doubt about that. He was just unique.'

To remember him, his colleagues held a: 'Dress Like Keeler Day'. 

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