Jan 17 2013 By Hannah Jennings Parry
THE DEVASTATED family of a 20-year-old cyclist, killed in a horrific crash, have called for tougher punishments after the driver was handed just a £35 fine.
Animation student Tom Ridgway, from Hall Green, was cycling into Solihull along Streetsbrook Road on June 27, when he was hit by a taxi.
The victim's aunt Debbie Sarjant broke down in tears at Solihull Magistrates Court as Malcolm Stoddart, prosecuting, described how her nephews body was flung onto the bonnet of driver Ichhapal Bhamras car.
But the 54-year-old, of Oak Hill Crescent, Acocks Green, had carried on driving a further 90 metres, with the cyclist on his Toyota Previa, hitting traffic signs along the way until finally colliding with a tree.
Tom died in hospital a short time later.
Bhamra was only charged with driving without due care and attention after the Crown Prosecution Service were unable to determine the cause of the crash and whether that, or the subsequent journey, had caused Toms death.
He was handed three penalty points, a £35 fine and court costs.
"Neither the charge not the sentence reflect the enormous tragedy of a
young mans death when he was simply cycling along next to the pavement, said Debbie Sarjant.
Tom's mother Liz Ridgway, aged 48, said the family's lives had been torn apart by the tragedy. "It's devastated our lives and there will be no going back."
Solihull MP Lorely Burt said she was shocked and disgusted by the sentence and pledged to look into the case.
Defence barrister Ian Bridge said Bhamra, a taxi driver for 26 years, had suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder since the accident, felt unable to drive and had voluntarily handed back his taxi licence.
"Since this accident, there's not a day which goes by when he has not thought about the family's pain, caused by the loss of their son.
"If only he could wind the clock back."
Mrs Ridgway said the driver's remorse was a small comfort to the family.
"Nothing can bring Tom back to us. But the fact that he has handed in his taxi licence does more than any sentence could."
The mum-of-two said the popular Bournemouth University student, a talented artist and member of Solihull youth theatre group SOSage for nine years, would be missed by many.
"Tom was a generous and exceptionally warm-hearted young man, making friends wherever he went and sharing his sunny, optimistic love of life with everyone he met," she said.
"Everyone who knew him, misses his beautiful smile and genuine warmth. It is impossible to express how much Tom is loved by his family and friends and how special he was."
She also thanked everyone for their support and efforts to raise £10,000 in Tom's memory for the Princes Trust.