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Driver admits hit-and-run death

The New Zealand Herald: Driver admits hit-and-run death

5:09PM Thursday Nov 05, 2009

A Canterbury man drove drunk and killed a cyclist after being told he would not be served at a tavern in when he was seen slumped at the bar.

Phillip Kirkwood Hamilton, 40, of Southbridge, admitted causing the death of Jens Richardon by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol, and failing to stop after the fatal accident.

Judge Stephen Coyle convicted him in Christchurch District Court and remanded him on bail to February 8 for sentencing.

He ordered a presentence report with a report on Hamilton’s suitability for home detention, and a victim impact statement from the dead cyclist’s wife.

Defence counsel Craig Ruane asked that Hamilton not be forbidden to drive during the remand because he could continue to work in Christchurch and earn money for a possible emotional harm reparation payment to Mr Richardon’s wife.

Judge Coyle allowed him to continue driving, but only to get to and from work.

Police prosecutor Anselm Williams said Hamilton and his brother helped a family move house during the morning of August 6 and he then had only a sandwich for lunch.

The pair went to a bar at Rolleston at 2.30pm and drank and placed bets at the TAB. Hamilton drank about 10 pints of beer before 6.30pm.

At that stage, Hamilton was seen slouched over the bar and appeared to be falling asleep. The staff told his brother he would not served because he was drunk.

Just after 7pm he set off in his BMW car, which had no warrant of fitness but was registered.

Mr Richardon, 34, was a PhD student at Lincoln University where he was completing an agricultural science qualification. He was a German national who had been living in New Zealand since 2000.

His bike was showing reflectorised strip and a flashing rear light, and he was wearing a helmet.

Hamilton’s car struck him from behind, throwing him onto the grass verge and killing him instantly.

The impact smashed the car’s windscreen and knocked off the number plate at the scene. Hamilton stopped briefly but did not check if he had hit anyone.

He drove home where the police arrived at 11.20pm, having found the number plate.

Hamilton had drunk more beer by then, and his reading was 661mcg of alcohol to a litre of breath - the legal limit is 400mcg.

He told police he knew he had hit a cyclist but panicked because he had been drinking, Mr Williams said.

- NZPA