A DRINK driver who caused the death of a motorcyclist has been jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Dumitru Radu, 27, was almost twice the drink-drive limit and “fiddling with his phone” when he failed to stop at a Bournemouth crossroads.

He pulled out into West Cliff Road and crashed into motorcyclist Colin Lazenbury.

Mr Lazenbury then collided with a car travelling in the opposite direction to him after the initial impact.

The 54-year-old was rushed to hospital but died from the injuries he sustained around seven weeks later.

Radu, of no fixed abode, was sentenced at Salisbury Crown Court today, October 18, having previously pleaded guilty to a charge of causing death by driving dangerously.

Bournemouth Echo:

The fatal crash took place on May 26, 2019, but the court heard bringing Radu to justice was delayed as he fled the country following an initial arrest.

The Crown Prosecution Service authorised charges for Radu in December 2019, but information was received that it was believed the defendant, a Moldovan national with a Polish passport, had left the country.

Following enquiries and assistance from the National Crime Agency and International Crime Coordination Centre, a European Arrest Warrant was secured. 

Radu was arrested in Germany on June 1 of this year and subsequently extradited to the United Kingdom to appear before the courts. 

Sentencing Judge Robert Pawson said: “No sentence this court can pass can possibly compensate the Lazenbury family.

“He cannot be brought back, nor will any sentence provide any real comfort to those who have lost him.

“As appalling case this is, there are inevitably more serious cases but you made a deliberate decision to ignore the rules of the road. You were drink driving. You flagrantly disregarded those rules by at the same time of driving over the limit, you were fiddling with your mobile phone – a wholly avoidable distraction.

“You weren’t speeding, that is accepted but as I say, according to your own account in interview, you had been drinking up to half an hour earlier – wine and brandy.”

Prosecuting, Francisca Da Costa said Mr Lazenbury and his son had set off on two motorbikes on the morning of May 26, 2019, with plans to have breakfast in Weymouth.

They were travelling along West Cliff Road at less than 20mph at around 8.30am, when a Volkswagen Sharan being driven by Radu pulled out from a side road.

“At the time of the incident, Colin Lazenbury had the right of way. As his son Aidan Lazenbury approached the junction on the nearside he saw a car bonnet coming out from the junction ahead of him,” said Ms Da Costa.

She added: “The Volkswagen Sharan came out of the junction and struck his father’s bike square on the nearside.“

Colin Lazenbury was thrown up into the air and the Volkswagen Sharen continued across the junction to Clarendon Road on the other side.”

Bournemouth Echo:

The court heard the driver of the third vehicle involved, a Peugeot 307, was wholly blameless for colliding with Mr Lazenbury after the initial impact.

The defendant left the scene on two occasions but returned both times.When Radu came back he was in tears and asked about the condition of Mr Lazenbury.

On coming back a second time, he walked towards police and held his arms out to be arrested.

Ms Da Costa said a 100-millilitre sample of Radu’s breath contained 61 micrograms of alcohol – the drink drive limit is 35 micrograms.

The court heard the defendant arrived in Bournemouth in the early hours with friends, having travelled from London to the seaside, before drinking alcohol.

The prosecutor said at the time of the incident Radu was using his mobile phone as a sat nav for directions to go to get food and he was leaning forward to touch the screen.

Despite a solid white line and stop signs at the end of West Overcliff Drive, the defendant did not stop.

He was travelling at between 16mph and 18mph at the time of the crash.

“He told police he had seen the motorcycle but it was too late to avoid the collision,” said Ms Da Costa.

Members of Mr Lazenbury’s family attended the sentencing hearing and read emotional statements about their relative and how his death had affected them.

They described as a “hardworking”, “loving” and “caring” man, with references made to his support for others and good sense of humour.

His mother said that his death “left a void in all our lives that will never go away”.

Many of the statements highlighted how Radu’s decision to flee the country had prolonged their suffering.

Mitigating, Mark Florida-James said the defendant was genuinely remorseful for his actions and knew nothing he could say or do would make things better for Mr Lazenbury’s family and friends.

Radu had no previous convictions, the court heard.

Judge Pawson said there were two particular aggravating features in the case.

“One is the impact on others,” said the judge.

“In almost every case in which someone has their life taken away from them there are waves that go out. It is not just the person who is deceased.

“The impact on Mr Lazenbury’s family is plain to see but you actions also affected a third party (the driver of the Peugeot)”.

The judge added: “I accept that you are remorseful, you feel genuine sorrow for what you did, but you left this country and that has meant, as has been made clear from all of the statements from Mr Colin Lazenbury’s family, they have had to wait. Their pain has been drawn out by you fleeing the country.”

Alongside the prison term, Radu was disqualified from driving for three years, with a two-year-and-nine-month extension period to coincide with his time behind bars.

He will automatically be deported from the United Kingdom upon reaching the appropriate point in his prison sentence.

Judge Pawson extended his gratefulness to Mr Lazenbury’s family for attending the hearing and reading their statements.

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