A hit-and-run driver downed eight vodkas in a pub shortly before he crashed his van into a pregnant cyclist – causing devastating injuries which led to the loss of her unborn child.
Gary Marston struck the rider from behind as she rode in a dedicated cycle lane in Aylestone, Leicester, in December last year.
The tragedy occurred moments after he had walked out of a nearby pub and got behind the wheel of his work van.
His victim only pulled through because of her general fitness and good health before the crash.
However, she lost the child she, her partner and their families had been praying for.
Marston, 41, appeared at Leicester Crown Court yesterday to be sentenced for two offences – dangerous driving and failing to stop at the scene of a collision – to which he had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.
Gary Marston (pictured) downed eight vodkas in a pub shortly before he crashed his van into a pregnant cyclist – causing devastating injuries which led to the loss of her unborn child
He was jailed for a total of 18 months and banned from driving for six years.
The tragedy occurred shortly before 9.30pm on Monday, December 2 last year, the court heard.
The woman, a cyclist of vast experience, was clearly visible with lights on her bike and on her clothing, prosecutor Neil Bannister told the court.
Marston, of Nevanthon Road, Western Park, Leicester, drove away after the accident, leaving her lying helpless and seriously injured in the road.
She was taken to hospital and, two days later on Wednesday, December 4, Leicestershire Police confirmed she had lost the baby.
Police investigators calculated his speed in the seconds before the collision to be 46mph, while in the moments after he had struck the woman he was travelling at up to 54mph. The speed limit was 30mph.
After failing to stop at the scene, Marston drove to his mother’s house and carried on drinking and also took cocaine.
In a statement read out in court, the woman spoke of her enduring mental and physical anguish.
Gary struck the rider from behind as she rode in a dedicated cycle lane in Aylestone Road, Aylestone, Leicester in December last year
She said: ‘My diary entry for Sunday, December 1 reads ‘I’m so happy. It’s been a lovely week and a fantastic weekend. I’m so excited. Christmas is nearly here and so is the best present ever – our baby.’
The diary entry went on: ‘I’ve waited a long time for this and I can’t stop smiling. I feel on top of the world.’
In her statement, she went on to describe how she and her partner are trying to rebuild their lives.
She said: ‘We should be getting ready for our daughter’s first birthday. Would she be crawling or walking? Would she be smiling at her birthday cake?
‘Instead of being excited in the run-up to Christmas, we will be thinking about what our little girl would be doing now.’
She said she had been told she should be ‘grateful’ she did not die and that being fit and healthy had saved her.
She added: ‘All I can think is it that it was not enough to save my little girl.’
The cyclist is still in constant pain and has no idea whether this will be a permanent physical legacy of Marston’s crimes.
She said: ‘I have not had a pain-free day since I was hit by the van and I may remain this way for the rest of my life.
‘The past year has been miserable. Nothing can bring joy when you have so much physical and emotional pain.
‘I have had more medication in the past year than I have had in my whole life.
‘I used to live a full life and I was looking forward to continuing this as a mother.
‘Physical pain is the first thing that greets me every morning and then the memory that this is not a nightmare, it is all real.
‘I will never be able to forgive myself for being in his way and I will have to live with that feeling of guilt for the rest of my life.
Marston, 41, appeared at Leicester Crown Court (pictured) yesterday to be sentenced for two offences – dangerous driving and failing to stop at the scene of a collision – to which he had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing
‘I’m now scared by the speed of cars and vans and no longer feel safe around roads.
‘I can’t drive now and I have to be ferried to hospital by other people. I can’t work because of my injuries and I can’t be sure I will ever be able to again.’
The court heard Marston, of Nevanthon Road, Western Park, Leicester, has previous convictions for offences including violent disorder, burglary, possession of a bladed article, affray and criminal damage.
He committed other motoring offences earlier in 2019 which meant he ended up with the maximum 12 penalty points on his licence.
However, he successfully persuaded magistrates to not ban him from driving under the totting up procedure because it would have caused ‘exceptional hardship’ by making it difficult for him to run his flooring business.
Both the woman and Judge Timothy Spencer QC, questioned the decision taken by the Crown Prosecution Service, (CPS), to charge Marston with the two offences.
She felt he should also have been charged with drink or drug driving and the death of her child did not appear to be reflected in the charges Marston faced.
The judge said in open court that the decision to not proceed with more serious charges limited the length of the sentence he could impose.
Jailing Marston, Judge Spencer said: ‘You caused her very serious injury which stays with her and has blighted the nearly a year that has passed since.
‘But all of that pales against the fact that you caused the miscarriage of that baby, who was stillborn. Any sentence I impose, any words that come from me, again pale against the guilt and responsibility that go with you Gary Marston for the consequences of your actions.
‘It’s clear from CCTV footage you drank no less than eight vodkas. You had absolutely no business getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and you must have known that even if you were impaired by drink.
‘But your own selfish concerns no doubt dictated your behaviour. The consequences of your actions have been utterly devastating.’
Paul Prior, for Marston, said his client was genuinely remorseful and had been battling alcohol and drug addiction for more than 20 years.
At the time of the collision, Marston – who is said to suffer ‘anxiety and depression’ – had been making progress in overcoming his addiction but had suffered a relapse, Mr Prior said.