A DELIVERY driver who hit a young father as he rode a micro-scooter home along a bypass failed to stop or report the accident to police.
Matthew James, of Stoneylawn in Winterborne Kingston, struck 23-year-old Daniel Robbie, of Throop Close, Bournemouth, shortly before 6am on September 14 last year.
The 27-year-old – who did not face a charge of death by careless driving - had “lied repeatedly” to his girlfriend and family, claiming he had hit a badger that he’d seen run into the path of his Toyota van.
He later admitted to police that he had made up the account.
The defendant told the court that he had been driving to work on the Upton Bypass when he heard an "impact" and realised his left wing mirror had been knocked off and his windscreen was partially smashed.
However, he said he had no idea of what he had hit, and assumed the crash involved wildlife.
In fact, the vehicle had struck Mr Robbie, who had been travelling along the unlit stretch of road wearing black clothing.
His body was found partially concealed in undergrowth by a family member 32 hours later.
"As I was looking in my right wing mirror, I felt this thud on the side of the vehicle," he said, adding that he didn't brake or stop, instead returning minutes later in a work vehicle.
"I had my hazard lights on and I was travelling between 10 and 15 miles per hour," he said.
"I saw a bit of road debris but nothing that stood out."
However, the following day, the defendant read an article on the Daily Echo’s website, which reported that that a man had been killed along the stretch of road.
The defendant searched Google on his phone in the early hours of the next morning for the term 'crush my car'.
Prosecutor Charles Nightingale told James: "You willfully closed your eyes to the obvious, pretending you don't know you have hit something and making sure you're not going to know."
He added: "I don't know whether he convinced himself, but he certainly took steps to convince others around him [that he had hit a badger]."
James had denied failing to stop at the scene of an accident and failing to report an accident, but was today found guilty at Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court.
Presiding magistrate John Corben said: “We find you deliberately closed your eyes to events and didn’t face up to the implications.”
James will be sentenced on July 23.
Family pay tribute to "caring and considerate" young father
Mr Robbie’s parents, Julie Croucher and Graham Robbie, called their son “a very caring and considerate person who didn’t have a bad bone in his body”.
“He was always there to help others,” they said.
“He was a loving son, brother and father to three young children, who have to grow up without their daddy.
“A day never goes by when we as a family don’t think of him. He will be forever in our hearts.”
They added: “How can somebody live with themselves knowing what they have done, and not have the decency to contact the police and do the right thing?
“No punishment is enough, and I hope that person lives with that for the rest of their lives like we have to live each day without Dan.”