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Lorry Driver Jailed For Killing Two Cyclists
A lorry driver who killed two cyclists after he fell asleep at the wheel has been jailed for eight and a half years.
Andrew McMenigall, 47, and Toby Wallace, 36, died almost instantly after they were hit on the A30 in Newquay, Cornwall, on July 2 last year.
The pair were 40 miles into a 960-mile charity bike ride between Land's End and John O'Groats when they were struck by Robert Palmer's white Renault lorry.
At an earlier hearing at Truro Crown Court, Palmer, of Bude, pleaded guilty to two charges of causing death by dangerous driving.
He also admitted another charge of dangerous driving in relation to a second crash weeks later on the A30 near Okehampton.
At the time of the crash Palmer - a night delivery driver for Frys Logistics Ltd in Launceston - had had little sleep because he had been working on vehicle maintenance for the firm during the day.
The court heard he had also been using his iPhone to send text messages while doing deliveries for discount store Lidl.
Judge Christopher Harvey Clark QC said: "You completely ignored their presence on the road. In the words of prosecutor Mr Lee you mowed them down.
"It is clear that at the time when this tragic accident occurred you were suffering from extreme fatigue and exhaustion.
"You should not have been driving at all at that time. You failed to ensure that you took sufficient rests. People should not drive when they are feeling very sleepy or, as you were, totally exhausted."
Palmer was also banned from driving for 10 years and ordered to take an extended driving test.
Mr McMenigall lived in Edinburgh with his wife Anne and their two children, Jennifer, 15, and 12-year-old Lucy.
Mr Wallace lived with his wife Claire in Philadelphia and had twice rowed for Cambridge in the Boat Race. Both men worked for Aberdeen Asset Management.
Palmer told police he had gone home and slept up until 6.30pm after finishing his shift the day before, but an investigation revealed this was a lie and he had only had a few hours' sleep.
Prosecutor Philip Lee said Palmer also altered his tachograph to cover up his lack of sleep.
The court heard Palmer was also involved in a second crash on September 20, where he drove into the back of another lorry.
The driver of that vehicle, Brian Rabey, was left with minor injuries after his lorry overturned.
William Sellick, defending, said Palmer was truly sorry for what he had done and had "blighted the lives of two families".
He said: "He is only too aware of the pain and suffering he has caused and that is something that will remain with him for always."