Drug addict Daryl Ackland, who killed a 'highly skilled' craftsman and artist while fleeing from the police, was jailed for five years four months today. Jailing Ackland at Gloucester Crown Court, a judge told him that his victim, cabinet maker Joe Marchant, 71, was "ten times the man you will ever be."
Mr. Marchant, a keen mountaineer who was planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with his son, was cycling in Stroud on October 27 last year when he was hit by a Saab being driven by Ackland. Ackland, of Target close in Stroud, was at the time on bail for earlier offences of driving under the influence of illegal drugs and possessing heroin. He was also driving without insurance in the borrowed car. When he crashed into Mr. Marchant he was trying to get away from police who had seen him at the wheel a few moments earlier.
Mr. Marchant, who was riding an electrically assisted bike in Bisley Road was described by Judge Jamie Tabor QC as an exceptional man who lived by the motto 'Do ordinary things extraordinarily well.' The judge told Ackland "He was a married man with grown up children. He was an exceptionally hard working man who had worked 60 hours a week for most of his life until he retired in 2015.
"He was a highly skilled cabinet maker and he also made musical instruments. He was a mountaineer, an artist, a photographer with a love of wildlife. He was a very active man, extremely fit for his age. He was planning to cycle to Cambridge to see a friend that weekend. He was ten times the man you will ever be. You killed him quite accidentally but through sheer recklessness. It was due to your own selfishness, pursuing your own lifestyle addicted to drugs and not caring at all for your fellow human beings.
"You were on bail to this court for serious driving offences at the time you killed Joe Marchant. "On the day in question you had been out buying crack cocaine and you no doubt knew you were uninsured in that car but didn't care. You became aware the police were interested in you and you decided you had to get away."
The judge said he knew the junction where Ackland turned into Bisley Road and it was a dangerous one at the best of times but he took it with extreme recklessness. "You were then driving far too fast for the conditions,” he added. “You were doing 40mph - twice the speed that was safe for that road. You were so intent on evading the police that you never saw Mr. Marchant at all. You went straight into him and you wiped him out. Then, worst of all, you ran off, leaving him dying by the side of the road."
Ackland admitted causing death by dangerous driving and having no insurance. He also admitted that six months earlier, on April 16 last year, he drove a Vauxhall Corsa in Tredworth Road, Gloucester, with excess levels of cocaine in his system. He also admitted possession of £15 worth of cocaine in three wraps in a Kinder Egg case which he hid up his back passage.
Judge Tabor jailed him for a total of five years and four months for all the offences and banned him from driving for six years. Prosecutor Janine Wood said the fatal crash happened at 2.35pm, shortly after a police patrol driver had seen Ackland driving the Saab with three passengers. Suspecting he had no insurance, the police car pulled up behind Ackland when he stopped outside a shop in Bisley Old Road and went in.
When Ackland resumed driving the police followed and activated blue lights and sirens. This made Ackland drive faster and at the junction of Hollow Lane and Bisley Road the police car stopped following because it was not safe to do so. Pedestrian Christian Hayward said he noticed Ackland going too fast and swerving past a woman with crutches who was crossing the road. He seemed to make no attempt to slow down and then hit Mr. Marchant.
Another witness, David Ballinger, who was sitting in his car, said he felt his vehicle rock as Ackland sped past him moments before the impact. Local resident Christopher Baxter looked out of his window, heard a screech and saw Mr. Marchant under the front wing of the crashed Saab Ackland and his passengers all ran off, said Mrs. Wood. He was found and arrested two and a half hours later.
In a victim statement Mr. Marchant's wife, who did not attend court, expressed her distress that the person she had shared her life with had gone. Judge Tabor commented "She says ‘I have lost the person I shared everything with, from the little jokes to the big adventures.'
Mrs. Wood said there was also a victim statement from Mr. Marchant's son Bodie Klein, who lives in Melbourne, Australia. "He says Mr. Marchant as a very large part of his life and he was planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with him. Mr. Marchant was obviously a very active man. He was also an accomplished artist. This is very tragic."
Steve Young, for Ackland, said he had travelled less than a mile, taking less than a minute, from the time the police saw him until the crash. "He is remorseful and saddened by what he has done,” he told the court. “His own father was killed by a [drunken] driver on Christmas Day when he was riding his motorbike some years ago. He does understand the effect this has.
"He has a significant drug problem. He has very poor health. It is so sad that he drove the way he did that day solely because he had no insurance."
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