Elderly drunk driver jailed for killing cyclist

An elderly drunk driver who killed a cyclist on a main highway near Wellington has been jailed.

Alison Downer, of Te Horo, was jailed for two years and two months when she appeared in Palmerston North District Court on Wednesday on a charge of driving with excess breath-alcohol causing death.

The 71-year-old's breath-alcohol reading was almost twice the legal limit when she ran into cyclist Frank van Kampen on State Highway 1 near Te Horo in September last year.

Witnesses had reported seeing Downer driving erratically and forcing other motorists to take evasive action before she ran into the 46-year-old from Kapiti Coast.

Mr Kampen died at the scene, leaving behind a fiancee, stepson and a 10-week-old daughter.

Downer has three previous convictions for drink-driving and the Crown sought a sentence starting point of at least four years' jail.

However, Downer's lawyer said she was extremely remorseful but has been unable to contact the victim's family to express that.

Judge Les Atkins also ordered Downer to pay reparation of $30,000 to the victim's family for emotional harm and disqualified her from driving for eight years.

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