Army Major blasts judge after uninsured driver who left him for dead walks free from jail
- Cathal O’Reilly, 51 had uninsured driver William Jones, 61, smash into him
- He was cycling to Wales when he was hit at 70mph on the A55 dual carriageway
- The crash broke his back, pelvis and leg so he is learning to walk again now
- Mr Jones was granted bail days after being sentenced to just 12 weeks in jail
A former Army Major mown down in a hit and run at the end of a 32-hour bike ride has spoken of his disbelief that the uninsured driver convicted of leaving him for dead had walked free.
Sandhurst-trained Cathal O’Reilly, 51, was five miles from completing his marathon trip when unemployed William Jones, 61, smashed into him.
Cathal O’Reilly was crashed into by William Jones Pictured: Cahal O’Reilly and Mrs Anne Fairey mother of Captain Alex Fairey Parachute Regiment at Wellington Barracks
The business consultant broke his back, pelvis and leg and is ‘lucky to be alive’ after being catapulted 65ft down the dual carriageway. He spent six weeks in hospital, had 22 hours of surgery, wore a neck brace for 14 weeks and is learning to walk again nine months on. Yesterday Mr O’Reilly criticised the justice system after Jones, who admitted careless driving, failing to stop after the accident, failing to report it and having no insurance, was granted bail by a Crown Court judge days after being sentenced to just 12 weeks in jail.
William Jones, 61, smashed into him and left him for dead
The unemployed motorist appealed against his sentence on the grounds it was too stiff and Judge Timothy Petts, sitting at Mold Crown Court, north Wales, let him go free, after spending just four nights in prison, until another hearing this week.
Mr O’Reilly said he was ‘staggered’ that Jones had been freed.
He told the Daily Mail: ‘Most people I speak to think 12 weeks in jail is a jaw-droppingly short sentence given what happened, so I am staggered that a judge should free him on bail. This man left me for dead at the roadside, he was uninsured and is a danger to the public. I am so disappointed but what can I do? That is the state of the justice system in this country.’
Magistrates in Caernarfon were told that Jones was drunk when police arrested him three hours after the crash last September.
But prosecutors could not charge him with the more serious offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving because he claimed to have downed alcohol at a hotel only after the accident.
He was hit near the end of his 32-hour bike ride, five miles from Holyhead Port
Mr O’Reilly’s blood was found on the headlight and grill of Jones’s car
The court heard that married Mr O’Reilly set off from his home, in Wandsworth, south London, around midday on September 18 for Anglesey, north Wales, where he planned to take the ferry to his parents’ house in Dublin. The father-of-one was five miles from Holyhead Port when he was struck by Jones driving at 70mph on the A55 dual carriageway around 8pm the following day.
Jones, of Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, failed to stop. He told officers he thought he had hit a bollard. Jones denied drink-driving and instead claimed he had downed vodka in the Premier Inn car park shortly after arriving.
Mr O’Reilly’s DNA – blood and tissue from his injured leg – was found on the headlight and grill of Jones’s car.
The former Army Major and Sandhurst-trained business consultant business consultant broke his back, pelvis and leg Pictured: Cahal O’Reilly Hosting Prince Charles in 1997
Mr O’Reilly, who studied at Trinity College in Dublin before serving with the Irish Guards and later captaining an Army rowing team at the Henley Regatta, said: ‘What I have done in my life made me physically robust enough to survive the impact.
‘This despicable coward has caused so much damage to myself and my family. He lied at every opportunity and played the system to get the lowest sentence possible, then had the cheek to appeal.’ The appeal hearing is due to take place on Friday.