A MAN who killed his best friend in a hit-and-run outside a pub near Ledbury has been jailed for five months.
Stephen Hill, of Birts Street in Birtsmorton, was driving his green Audi on the A438 Tewkesbury Road near the Duke of York Inn when he hit the rear of a bike being ridden by Jonathan Palmer at 1.50am on October 28 last year.
Mr Palmer had agreed to ride Hill’s bike back from the pub when the collision occurred. The 21-year-old received spinal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene at 2.21am.
Last Friday (October 10) Worcester Magistrates Court heard the 35-year-old had been drinking with a group of friends, which included Mr Palmer, before deciding to go to Hill’s house for further drinks.
The court was told the weather conditions were ‘extremely poor’ on the unlit road and Hill, estimated to be travelling between 40 and 50mph, did not see Mr Palmer until he collided with him. Hill tried to swerve and ended up in a ditch along the 60mph road.
A car which arrived moments later, which contained Mr Palmer’s friend Katie Adams and the defendant’s cousin Dean Hill, stopped to help.
Hill came running towards the pair and without saying anything fled from the scene.
The court was told the defendant crawled under a bush in a nearby field and slept there. The following morning he went home and told his dad who took him to Worcester Police Station.
Defending solicitor Mark Sheward said: “From the outset the circumstances are tragic in the extreme for everyone concerned.
“Jonathan Palmer and Stephen Hill were the best of friends.
“Mr Hill got into his car, set off, but he had no idea Mr Palmer was in front of him.
“He saw it was his friend laying on the ground, saw the others there and for whatever reason he left the scene. He accepts it was the wrong thing to do.
“What he thinks about daily is that he’s responsible for the death of his best friend and no punishment will take that away, that will live with him for the rest of his life and he acknowledges that.”
A victim statement read out by the prosecution described the budding footballer, who worked at the Duke of York Inn as a chef, as a ‘hugely popular figure’ and ‘the life and soul of the party’.
Sentencing Hill to causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving, Deputy District Judge Fowler said: “The death of Mr Palmer is going to have a lasting effect on all those who had the pleasure to have known him and there’s nothing I can do or the court can do to replace that.”
Speaking to the defendant, he added: “I don’t accept this as a momentary lapse of concentration or carelessness.
“You chose to drive in the way you did – which was in the speed limit – but in atrocious weather conditions and on a road that was unlit.”
Hill was also disqualified from driving for three years.