Bury St Edmunds – Man jailed for fatal collision

A 31-year-old man has been sentenced to five years imprisonment in connection with a fatal collision in Bury St Edmunds, which occurred over two years ago. 

Alexander Martin, of Tulyar Walk in Newmarket, appeared before Ipswich Crown Court today, Thursday 3 August, where he was sentenced to five years in prison with a requirement to serve a minimum of two and a half years in jail. Martin was also disqualified from driving for five and a half years and will be required to pass a new driving test.

Martin had denied the offence of causing death by dangerous driving but was found guilty on Tuesday 20 June, following a seven-day trial. 

The collision occurred at around 6pm on Monday 12 April 2021, when a Nissan Qashqai driven by Martin was involved in a collision with a bicycle in Newmarket Road, Bury St Edmunds. 

The cyclist suffered serious injuries and died at the scene. He was later identified as Stephen Lawrence, aged 65, from Risby. 

The court heard that Mr Lawrence was wearing orange high-visibility clothing and should have been clear to see by other road users. The weather conditions were also fine and dry. 

Martin’s vehicle collided with the rear of the bicycle, throwing Mr Lawrence into the air and causing him to hit the windscreen of the Qashqai, before landing in the road. The Qashqai came to a stop approximately 70 metres from where Mr Lawrence was found, with the bike wedged under the front of the car. 

Just prior to the collision, Martin had stopped at a nearby filling station and had been seen looking down at something as he left the forecourt. Analysis of his mobile phone found that he had sent a message 34 seconds at most before the 999 call was made in respect of the collision. 

Following an inspection of the Nissan Qashqai, it was found to have a broken windscreen wiper on the driver’s side and a dirty unsafe windscreen. 

Martin denied sending a message just seconds before the collision, disputing the accuracy of the data. He said the reason he hadn’t seen Mr Lawrence was that he was blinded by the glare of the sun. 

However, the jury dismissed Martin’s version of events finding him guilty by a unanimous decision. 

Sergeant Mark Bassett, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “This was a tragic and completely avoidable collision, which has resulted in a loving family having a husband, father and grandfather torn away from them. 

“The phone data analysis proved that Alexander Martin sent a message just prior to or at the time of the collision and we are in no doubt that the distraction caused by his phone – combined with the dirty windscreen – are the reasons why he failed to see Mr Lawrence.

“Martin has failed to show any true remorse for his actions and the devastating impact they have caused and I hope that his conviction and today’s sentence brings some comfort to Mr Lawrence’s family. 

“We regularly run campaigns regarding the risks of driving and using a mobile phone because it is extremely dangerous and results in numerous collisions, some of which – as in this case – have fatal consequences.”