A DRINK driver who ripped the heart out a family when he killed a cyclist in a hit-and-run has been jailed for more than eight years.

William Stallard also had cocaine in his system when he smashed into Michael Waistell as he cycled to work, causing fatal injuries as the cyclist was thrown into the air by the impact.

Stallard then nearly ploughed into a man walking his dog as he lost control of his white Transit van while speeding through residential streets of Hartlepool.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 58-year-old was hit with such force that he died instantly and the mountain bike he was riding ended up in the garden of a house on Mowbray Road.

The Northern Echo: Michael WaistellMichael Waistell

Mr Waistell’s daughter, Laura, read out a heart-breaking victim personal statement telling the court of the devastating impact her father’s death had on the family.

She said: “I don't know how any of us are going to feel happy or complete without our dad being here to look after us all in his loving way."

Richard Bennett, prosecuting, told the court how Stallard fled the scene at high speed before stopping at a friend's house to call the police and report his van stolen.

The court heard how Stallard had been spotted driving erratically by a number of other motorists and had narrowly avoided smashing into a queue of parked cars sitting at traffic lights in the minutes leading up to the fatal collision on July 31.

The Northern Echo: William StallardWilliam Stallard

Stallard, of Moffatt road, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, perverting the course of justice and drink driving.

Stephen Constantine, in mitigation, said his client had shown remorse since the reality of what he had done had sunk in while on remand.

Judge Howard Crowson jailed the 35-year-old father-of two for a total of eight years and fours months.

He said: "This was a case in which this collision was caused by dangerously high speeds coupled with fact that you were so intoxicated with alcohol, and or the impact of cocaine, you were unable to control the van you were driving.

"Either you were horribly impaired or you made a choice to drive that way. On either analysis the driving was appalling."

The judge also banned Stallard from driving for more than ten years.

He added: "You caused the collision, your driving put yourselves in a position where neither of you could avoid the collision. He was blameless and you were entirely to blame."

Speaking after the hearing, Senior Investigating Officer, Sergeant Stephen Clyburn from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: "Not only did Stallard leave the scene of the collision, but he also lied to police by reporting his van stolen and pretending that he wasn’t at the wheel when the fatal collision happened.

“Despite the lies that he told, officers were able to prove that it was indeed Stallard at the wheel and that his vehicle had never been stolen. He tried to escape justice, which was a further insult to Mr Waistell and his family."