Drunk driver knocks down paralympic gold medal winner

Drunk driver jailed for knocking down Paralympic gold medal winner and ending his hopes of appearing at the Games

  • Champion cyclist Simon Richardson MBE was training for London 2012 when he was knocked over
  • Drunk driver Edward Adams, who was more than twice the drink-drive limit, left the scene and tried to hide his van after the accident
  • Mr Richardson, who become a Paralympic cyclist after a car crash left him with life-changing injuries 11 years ago, could now face permanent paralysis
  • Judge jails Adams for 15 months telling him he had shown none of the courage and dignity shown by his victim

By Kerry Mcqueeney

A drunk driver has been jailed after shattering a gold medal-winning Paralympian's 2012 dream when he ran him over in a hit-and-run accident.

Champion cyclist Simon Richardson MBE was on an early-morning training session for the London games near his home in Bridgend, south Wales, when he was knocked over by Edward Adams, who was more than twice the drink-drive limit.

Alcoholic Adams, who had been driving at about 40mph, then drove his van away from the scene, leaving his seriously injured victim in the road.

gold 1
gold 2

Jailed: Edward Adams, left, knocked over Paralympian Simon Richardson, right, in a hit-and-run accident

gold 3

Accident scene: The Paralympian was training for the London Games on the A48 on a road known locally as Crack Hill (pictured)

The 61-year-old farmer rushed back home to hide his vehicle before pouring himself a glass of whisky - in a bid to try to disguise the fact he had been drinking before the collision, Cardiff Crown Court was told.

Mr Richardson was left with a catalogue of injuries included a fractured spine, broken pelvis, collapsed lung and perforated bowel, forcing him to abandon his London 2012 dream.

Judge Daniel Williams said Adams had shown limited empathy for his victim - and none of the courage and dignity displayed by Mr Richardson.

He said: 'You first got into the car at 8.45am that morning and when you were breathalysed just after midday you were more than twice the legal drink drive limit.

'Mr Richardson was clearly visible - cycling close to the kerb and wearing bright clothing.

'Your claims that you were affected by sneezing and sunlight were wholly untrue.

'Your reaction to the accident and its aftermath could not be in greater contrast with the man that you had left injured.

'You took the opportunity to leave the scene - knowing you had caused the accident.'

gold 4

Champion cyclist: Simon Richardson (pictured) was made an MBE after winning two golds and one silver medal at Beijing in 2008

Mr Richardson, 44, who won two gold medals and a silver in 2008, was training for the London Games on the A48 on a road known locally as Crack Hill in August last year.

Cardiff Crown Court heard he was thrown 26 metres into the air after Adams’ van hit him from behind.

He stopped briefly, but drove off after he noticed another motorist had stopped to offer him assistance.

Adams then attempted to hide his Peugeot van at his farm.

It was eventually located by a police helicopter, and was found with damage to a wing and windscreen.

Adams, when interviewed by police, said he had been drinking the night before and had drunk his first whisky at 6am when he woke up.

gold 5

Brave: Mr Richardson was left with a catalogue of injuries which forced him to abandon his 2012 dream

The court heard even with his driving glasses on Adams could not read a number plate from four metres away - and could only partially read one from two metres.

He admitted drink-driving and failing to stop, but denied a charge of dangerous driving.

Judge Williams described Adams’ version of events during his trial as 'instinctive lies' - and said the sentence he imposed reflected the serious harm and injury Mr Richardson had been caused.

Adams was given a 15 month prison sentence for dangerous driving, and an extra three months jail for failing to stop.

A three month sentence for driving with excess alcohol will run concurrently.

Adams will also be disqualified from driving for five years.

Following the court’s verdict, Mr Richardson said he faced an uncertain future.

The father-of-two said: 'I still have another operation to go through, which if it is unsuccessful could leave me permanently paralysed.

'It’s also been difficult to miss out on taking part in the London Paralympics.

'But I am a strong person, and plan to keep on fighting. As for the court’s verdict, I am happy in a way with the sentence.

'I would have been happy whatever sentence he got - even if he walked free.

'At the end of the day, it was just an accident and he did not deliberately set out to knock me down.

'But it is important that a precedent has been set - that not only should a person be charged with excess alcohol but it also qualifies as dangerous driving.

'I hope this incident shows the need for drivers to be more aware of cyclists on the road.'

Mr Richardson, of Porthcawl, was made an MBE after winning two golds and one silver medal at Beijing in 2008.

He suffered life-threatening injuries and his family were at his bedside for two weeks at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

Mr Richardson revealed that he was unconscious for 15 days, waking up in hospital and not recognising his family or friends.

gold 6

Torchbearer: Mr Richardson lighting the Paralympic cauldron outside City Hall in Cardiff

He said: 'For 25 days my life was in the balance - it was touch and go whether I survived.

'Every night when my wife left hospital she was told that I could be dead by the following morning.'

Simon revealed he has already set his sights on the Paralympic Games in Rio in four year’s time.

He said: 'I’ve recovered before and I know I can do it again.

'There’s a possibility I could be paralysed from the waist down but I would love to go to Rio.

'Watching the Paralympics will be a mixed feeling - I want to be there, I should be there.

'I will be watching on TV but I haven’t got tickets.'

Mr Richardson was involved in a car accident in 2001 which left him with serious leg and back injuries and no feeling down his left hand side.

Prior to his accident Mr Richardson was a keen cyclist, but he stopped cycling until 2005 when his doctors advised him to start training again to help his rehabilitation.

His cycle is powered only by his right leg, riding an adapted bike.

vBulletin stat