A LORRY driver who killed a motorcyclist while he was on a hands-free phone call and momentarily missed a cyclist has been jailed for eight years.

Lucian-Sorin Todor, 52, was travelling along the A32 at Warnford when he said he saw a cyclist “at the last moment”, on June 29, 2019, and crossed double white lines on a restricted bend.

The manoeuvre forced two cars to drive onto a grass verge to avoid a collision, but Jack Burgess, 22, who was riding a Yamaha motorcycle, braked and fell off his motorbike. The wheels of Todor’s trailer scrubbed against Mr Burgess’ head.

Todor, of Andrew Crescent, Waterlooville, “heard a noise like a clap” and stopped up the road but drove off because he did not believe he had caused the collision.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Mr Burgess (above) was rushed to hospital but died the following day. His organs have since helped five other people.

Todor, who was an agency worker for Fowler Welch, stood trial at Winchester Crown Court and was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. He was jailed today (Friday) for eight years and disqualified from driving for 10 years and four months.

In sentencing, the Recorder of Winchester, Judge Angela Morris said that she did not believe that Todor would have been blinded by the sun which prevented him from seeing the cyclist earlier.

She continued: “The reality is that by performing a wholly unnecessary overtaking manoeuvre on a blind bend of a single carriageway road which was restricted by double white lines, you put other road users at very serious risk of harm.”

The judge added: “You did not lift a finger to help that young man whose death you caused; you did not call the police; you did not offer to provide comfort and you left without providing your details to anyone.

“I do not sentence you for leaving the scene but the fact that you did, knowing others were saying you had been involved in this collision, is one of the most unconscionable acts of cowardice this court has had the misfortune to witness.”

During the trial the court heard that Todor had been on a hands-free call for 46 minutes, which carried on when he momentarily stopped at the scene and after.

Mr Burgess’ family were given their first opportunity to address Todor, originally from Romania, by giving victim impact statements.

His twin sister Abigail Burgess said everything her brother did was with passion and he had a “zest for life”.

She told court that while Mr Burgess was in hospital nurses gave the family the chance to say goodbye, adding: “His heart was still beating, his embrace was still warm.

“It was here that I promised myself I would get the justice for Jack that he deserved.”

His mother Kim Burgess said: “Jack was well loved by everyone everywhere. He would make friends and that would carry on into his adult life. He was the joker of our family, who wouldn’t mind laughing at himself.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Lucian-Sorin TodorLucian-Sorin Todor

In a message to Todor, who she accused of shedding “crocodile tears”, Mrs Burgess said: “You and your family have shown contempt for us, at first you drove off telling people you didn’t hit him, too busy with your phone conversation.

“When asked for further questioning, you refused, ‘(it’s) your right’, I am told.

“You didn’t think of Jack’s right for life as you carried out your dangerous manoeuvre. Your arrogance has shown through and through.

“You are a killer. I could forgive a person if they showed us some remorse, empathy, sympathy; you have shown us nothing.”

His sister Sophie told Todor: “Jack was given a death sentence and you have given us a life sentence.”

She added: “I’m glad that you are going to prison and I hope you spend a long time there. Jack Burgess was hundred times the man that you will ever be.”

In mitigation, Mark Ashley said: “He (Todor) didn’t set out on this day to do anything other than go about his business.

“I suspect that the biggest regret that he has got apart from not seeing the cyclist is that he left the scene quickly. He can see that that doesn’t look good. He stopped because he didn’t know what had happened, it is clear he was desperate that he wasn’t the one that caused.

“If he had known that he had come into physical contact with Mr Burgess he would have never he had left the scene.”

Speaking after the hearing, PS Jon Bates, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, who led the investigation, said: “Todor has shown no remorse for his crime, and we are pleased to see that justice has been done.

“We hope today’s sentencing brings some measure of closure for Mr Burgess’ family and serves as a reminder that we will investigate fatal road traffic collisions to the fullest extent of the law.”

After the sentencing, the family of Jack Burgess said: “We are so glad that Todor was found guilty of death by dangerous driving and has now been jailed.

“It has been a long and hard two years waiting to get to this point, and as a family we feel that we are now able to heal and remember the many good memories of Jack.

“Todor has not once shown us any empathy or any regret for the life that has been lost.

“We would like to send our heartfelt thanks to the police for their support and determination to get this outcome: Jon Bates, Simon Bradbury, Emma Pragnell and Rob Lewis. Our special thanks are also for our barrister Tom Wilkins, who has gone above and beyond our expectations.

“We think about Jack every day and will miss him for the rest of our lives.”