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Jail for lorry driver who killed cyclist while driving with cocaine in his system

By Jordan Reynolds | Bilston | Crime | Published: | Last Updated:

A lorry driver who had cocaine in his system when he killed a cyclist in Wolverhampton has been locked up for three-and-a-half years.

Joseph Large

Joseph Large was over the limit for both cocaine and cannabis when the 32-ton refuse lorry he was driving hit Paul Thompson as he cycled along Culwick Street near East Park in 2018.

Mr Thompson, 50 and from Bilston, was crushed and pronounced dead at the scene of the collision which happened near the street's junction with Hickman Avenue at around 2.30pm on November 26.

Mr Thompson was 12 weeks away from early retirement before the crash and had motorcycle trips planned to Scotland and Europe.

Paul Thompson

Large, 30 and of Woodcross Lane in Bilston, was unanimously found guilty of causing death by careless driving after a trial at Stafford Crown Court in December.

The trial was told how the employee of SB Waste Management & Recycling Ltd was remorseful at the roadside after killing Mr Thompson.

CCTV showed how he should have given way to Mr Thompson, who was cycling towards the junction as the skip loader emerged from the left.

Large tested positive for 158 micrograms of cocaine in his blood at the roadside - more than three times the legal limit - and admitted during interview that he had taken cocaine the previous Saturday evening, West Midlands Police said.

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He said the reason he did not see Mr Thompson was because the sun was glaring in his eyes as he looked right.

As well as being jailed, Large was disqualified from driving for two years at Stoke Crown Court, where the judge told him: "You had a duty of care whilst driving a vehicle of that size, especially to vulnerable road users.

"But you were complacent about your knowledge of the junction and this was an avoidable accident."

'Broken'

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At the trial Large was reduced to tears in the dock as the victim's brother Stephen, also from Bilston, read out a statement.

"This tragedy has broken us all," Mr Thompson said.

"My brother Paul had all his life in front of him. He was being made redundant. He worked out his finances.

"He had bought a new bike for his 50th birthday and and made plans to go to Scotland and Europe. But his dreams will unfortunately never be realised."

He added: "There was a time after the crash when I felt sorry for the driver and this was a tragic accident which the driver had to live with for the rest of his life.

"But when I found out further details, this turned to anger. The selfish behaviour of this driver has ruined so many lives."

Pc David Crump, of the West Midlands Police Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “As a professional lorry driver, Large's driving should have been of the very highest standards.

"But he got behind the wheel of a 32-ton lorry having previously consumed cocaine and as a result of his actions Mr Thompson sadly lost his life.

“Our thoughts go out to Mr Thompson’s family at this difficult time.

“And we would urge anyone to think twice before driving if they have had alcohol or taken drugs, as they can be putting the lives of other people in danger, as well as putting their own safety at risk."

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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