The widow of a cyclist killed instantly after being run over by a rogue driver’s tipper truck has told in heartbreaking detail how she was torn apart by the trauma of his death.
Deputy head teacher Penny Johnson wrote emails to Alan Neve telling him she loved him – and sent replies from his email account to her own – slept with his pyjamas and looked in vain for him on the Tube and as she drove around London.
“My live used to be vividly and richly coloured,” she said. “Now it’s black and white. “It’s hard to accept that such a gentle, kind, sensitive man had such a horrible death.”
Tipper truck driver Barry Meyer, 53, of Walthamstow, was last week [Thursday 14] jailed for three-and-a-half years and banned from driving for 10 years after admitting causing the death by careless driving of Mr Neve, 55, a music industry auditor from Poplar.
Judge Daniel Worsley said Meyer, who had previously been banned from the road five times and was driving without a HGV licence and insurance at the time of the morning rush-hour collision at Holborn on July 15, 2013, had a “wretched disregard for the safety of road users”.
In a victim statement to Blackfriars Crown Court, read by prosecutor Allison Hunter, Ms Johnson said she had suffered “traumatic” loss as Mr Neve’s death came without warning.
She said: “I could not fully comprehend that Alan was not still here. I had not said goodbye. He was there and then he wasn’t.
“When the police told me that Alan had been taken to St Pancras mortuary, I remember thinking he would be cold and that I should take him some warm clothes and a blanket.”
They met in 1984 when she was 21 and he was 26. They became a couple in 2000 and married in 2008. She became step-mother to Mr Neve’s teenage daughter Matilda.
“I loved Alan with all my heart and he made me happier than anyone else in the world,” she said.
“I felt like the luckiest woman in the world to have him as my husband. It’s impossible to fully convey how Alan’s death has affected me.
“I so very much want the life back that I had, rather than the one I am living now. I long for Alan constantly.
“Matilda has said: ‘I think about dad every day and miss him deeply. I thought of him as a best friend as well as a father. He was truly an inspiration.’”
Judge Worsley told Meyer the harm he caused to to Mr Neve’s family and to Alexander Smith, a lorry driver who had tried to help Mr Neve, was “devastating beyond all measure”.
Mr Neve was wearing a cycle helmet but died from massive head injuries when the lorry’s front and rear wheels ran over his head. Mr Smith was so traumatised that he had a mental breakdown, lost his job and his marriage almost fell apart, the court was told.
Neil Corre, defending, said Meyer had never served a prison sentence despite his series of bans, some of which were flouted. He said there was a “very limited opportunity” for Meyer – who had driven through a red light – to spot Mr Neve as he weaved through traffic.
Despite the fact that it was Mr Neve’s right of way, Mr Corre said: “It has to be said with sadness that Mr Neve put himself in a position of danger by riding into the closing gap between Mr Neve’s vehicle and the vehicle driven by [a colleague].”