Mother-of-two who told police she had ‘hit a fox’ after killing cyclist in hit-and-run is jailed

Emma Moughan was three times the drink drive limit and also under the influence of cocaine when she hit the cyclist

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A mother-of-two who killed a cyclist in a hit-and-run collision as she drove under the influence of drink and drugs has been jailed for five years.

Emma Moughan told police who pulled her over when they saw her damaged ca that she had hit a fox.

The court heard Moughan, 42, was in full-time employment, held a responsible position in the public sector and was well-regarded by her managers before her life 'unravelled' in the autumn of 2020.

On the evening of 11 October she left her home in Eggborough, North Yorkshire, to drive the 10 miles to her mother's house in Broughton after drinking alcohol and taking cocaine following an argument with her partner.

Emma MoughanEmma Moughan
Emma Moughan

On the A1041 Camblesforth straight, she struck Patrick Hird, 61, who was cycling to a night shift at the factory where he worked on his e-bike, with her Mercedes Benz. Mr Hird, a widower who had lost his wife to a blood clot on the brain nine years previously, died at the scene from head and spinal injuries.

Yorkshire Crown Court heard Mr Hird, from Carlton, was cycling with both front and rear lights illuminated and was wearing high-visibility clothing. He would have been visible for around 600 metres on the straight stretch of road as he and Moughan both travelled towards Selby - giving her around 20 seconds to avoid him.

Moughan kept driving until police pulled her over

Moughan did not stop at the scene and continued to drive to Selby town centre, where police officers pulled her over after noticing her windscreen was smashed, her front bumper was missing and two of her wheels had lost their tyres. She 'appeared inebriated' and told them that she believed she had collided with a fox.

CCTV footage also showed her driving straight over mini roundabouts and colliding with a traffic island between 11.30pm and midnight, after she had already killed Mr Hird.

Emma Moughan struck Patrick Hird on the A1041 Camblesforth straight between Carlton and Selby as he cycled to a night shiftEmma Moughan struck Patrick Hird on the A1041 Camblesforth straight between Carlton and Selby as he cycled to a night shift
Emma Moughan struck Patrick Hird on the A1041 Camblesforth straight between Carlton and Selby as he cycled to a night shift

By coincidence, she only took the same route as Mr Hird through Snaith, Carlton and Camblesforth because the A19 was closed due to roadworks.

Moughan, who has two daughters, gave a blood alcohol reading that was three times over the limit and a reading for cocaine that was 10 times over the drug limit.

When police returned to the scene, where a group of friends returning from a night out had been attempting to give Mr Hird first aid, they found the Mercedes Benz's missing bumper as well as evidence that her wheels had straddled the grass verge, meaning she had been veering far to the left at the point of collision. Mr Hird's DNA was also found on the vehicle's roof.

‘We will never get over what happened’

An impact statement from Mr Hird's family was read to the court and written by his sister Lorraine McCullough, who had lived next door to him for over 20 years. Mr Hird's other sister and their mother all lived in the same village.

Mrs McCullough said that her brother did DIY and maintenance tasks for their elderly mother, including grass cutting and window cleaning, and that she had struggled to leave the house and visit her daughters after her son's death because the walk involved passing his house, which has since been sold and renovated.

"She struggled to do all of the things that Patrick used to do for her. She used to be quite jolly, but she is now withdrawn and more frail. She has stopped seeing people and struggles with Sundays, as he died on a Sunday, Mum bought him the bike and I think she blames herself for what happened. She wakes up every morning at the time I came to tell her what had happened.

"Me and Patrick had been close since we were children, we always shared problems. Me and my husband looked after him after his wife passed away. We miss him terribly. It hasn't got any easier and we will never get over what happened."

The prosecution argued that Moughan's driving was 'prolonged and deliberate' over a distance of seven miles and that she had 'no proper regard' for a vulnerable road user.

They added that around six weeks after Mr Hird died, Moughan was found passed out in the rear seat of a Fiat Punto in Selby. There was damage to the front of the car and she was again over the drink drive limit. It was found that she had struck another vehicle and she later pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and failing to stop, receiving a community order and a two-year driving ban.

‘No sentence can do justice in the family’s eyes’

Moughan's defence counsel said his client was making 'no excuses' for what she had done and was remorseful. He added that she had led a 'blameless life' until turning 40, after which she suffered mental health issues and was in an abusive relationship.

She pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

Sentencing her to five years and two months in prison and disqualifying her from driving for eight years, Judge Simon Hickey said: "No sentence can do justice in the family's eyes. Patrick Hird was doing everything possible to make sure he could be seen. He was going about his business and I have no hesitation in finding he would have been easily visible for around 600 metres.

"Your Mercedes had reactive lights, the best available to a motor car. On that straight road you can see for quite a distance. You were driving what was effectively a weapon and you were a danger to all road users. You could have hit anybody. You drove for seven miles and after you hit him you didn't stop. He had no chance. You claimed you had hit a fox but I doubt that you believed that.

"You carried on driving badly. Patrick had been thrown onto the car roof. The impact had bent the steering rod of your car and snapped the suspension arm.

"The impact on his wider family has been immense and ripples have spread out. You were living a blameless life until it unravelled and you have never been in custody before.

"The incident after the offence does temper your remorse. Again, you got into a car while over the limit for drink. You damaged another car and failed to stop. That balances out your mitigation."

Moughan will also have to take an extended driving test when her disqualification period ends.

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