Driver who killed cyclist in hit-and-run while on phone to girlfriend jailed

A motorist who killed a cyclist afer crashing into him with a stolen car while on the phone to his girlfriend has been jailed.

Ravinder Matharu, 32, was driving his brother’s Peugeot 206 when he struck Matei Alexandru, 43.

The Romanian national, who had only been in the country a year, died at the scene despite members of the public and paramedics who provided CPR.

Despite major damage to the car, Matharu fled the scene and did not report the crash to police.

Officers visited the address of the registered owner of the car – his brother – on the evening of the crash in South Ockendon, Essex.

But the car was nowhere to be found before it was returned to the house in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Matharu fled to another address in a bid to evade police.

He was arrested at a house in Purfleet, Essex, later that afternoon and charged with causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene of a collision, failing to report a collision, driving whilst disqualified and aggravated vehicle taking without consent.

Matharu, of South Ockendon, Essex, pleaded guilty to the charges at Basildon Crown Court earlier this year.

He was jailed for four years and one month on Monday and banned from driving for a further seven years. Matharu must take an extended test if he ever wishes to drive again.

Following the sentencing, Mr Alexandru’s family spoke of his death leaving a ‘great void’ in their lives in an emotional tribute.

Speaking on behalf of the family, his niece Cristina said: ‘When we found out about my uncle’s death we were in complete shock and pain.

‘Such pain never goes away, but rather it is something you get used to.

‘The death of my uncle has brought pain, confusion, and a lot of stress. Half of the family is living in Germany, and the other half is in Romania.

‘No matter how [Matharu] is punished, it will not change things for us.

‘But I hope it will make a difference for him as a person – that he will repent and he will understand what he did. Life is not a joke or a game, let alone careless driving.’

Inspector Rob Brettell said: ‘My deepest sympathies go out to Mr Alexandru’s family at this incredibly difficult time.

‘They’ve shown a real bravery throughout this process.

‘To lose a loved one is unimaginably difficult, but I can’t begin to imagine how tough it’s been for them when they’re more than one thousand miles away.

‘I’m glad that Matharu had the decency to plead guilty to ensure that they didn’t have to go through a trial, but that doesn’t excuse his appalling crime.

‘Not only did he get behind the wheel of a stolen car knowing that he was disqualified from driving, but he showed the utmost cowardice in his actions after hitting Mr Alexandru.’

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