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Speeding driver jailed for causing death of 14-year-old cyclist Isla Cochrane, from Girton

A speeding driver who killed a 14-year-old cyclist near Girton has been jailed for four years and 10 months.

Oliver Nicholls, 22, of Corpus Christi Lane, Godmanchester, was driving his Mini Cooper along Oakington Road towards Girton when he mounted a pavement and struck Isla Cochrane.

Isla Cochrane
Isla Cochrane

A court heard Nicholls had overtaken a vehicle turning left into New Road, towards Histon, and had misjudged the road at about 8.20pm on September 10 last year. He was driving 56mph in a 40mph zone at the time of the collision, and a forensic collision investigation report revealed he had reached speeds of up to 71mph in the moments before.

Nicholls stopped at the scene and he and a passenger, who were uninjured, got out of the car and called for an ambulance.

Paramedics rushed Isla, of Lawrence Close, Girton, to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, but she died of her injuries in the early hours of the following day.

Nicholls, who had been heading to a pub in Girton to play pool, told police investigators that when he overtook the car waiting to turn left into New Road, he thought he was travelling at about 40mph and said he had mistaken the cat’s eyes on the cycle path as being in the middle of the road.

Isla, who was wearing a helmet, had her cycle lights switched on but Nicholls said he did not see her. He said he knew something was wrong when he hit the kerb and braked hard, but it was too late.

Nicholls was sentenced on Monday (December 19) at Cambridge Crown Court to four years and 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at a hearing last month.

A ghost bike was placed at the scene where Isla Cochrane was hit
A ghost bike was placed at the scene where Isla Cochrane was hit

He was also disqualified from driving for five years and must pass an extended test before he could get a licence.

In a victim impact statement, Isla's mother said she was “a 14-year-old who did nothing wrong and should be alive". Her father said: "We will love and miss her every minute of every day.”

Miitigating, Lucy Organ described Nicholls as "genuinely remorseful" and said "he told one friend he wish he'd died that night".

Nicholls had worked as a healthcare assistant at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge during the pandemic, receiving a number of commendations during his time there.

Det Con Kim Marshall said: “Nicholls’ reckless driving that evening led to the death of a young girl, which has devastated her family and friends.

“There is nothing that highlights the danger and devastation speeding causes more than a heart-breaking case like this one.

“Our thoughts remain with Isla’s family and I hope the sentence handed to Nicholls will provide some form of closure for them. I would like to pay tribute to their bravery throughout the course of this investigation.”

A ghost bike was placed at the scene where Isla Cochrane died last year
A ghost bike was placed at the scene where Isla Cochrane died last year

Paying tribute to Isla after her death, her family said: “Isla loved life; she enjoyed so much – the outdoors, friendships, art, sewing, baking, hockey, mystery stories, codes, music, Scouts and so much more. We will always remember her kindness, unconstrained outlook and fantastic style.

“Her death has left a huge hole in our lives, and in those of her many friends. We will love and miss her always.”

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