A DRUNKEN taxi driver who killed a cyclist two hours after telling a work colleague he was ‘totally smashed’ has been jailed for seven years.

Simon Gatier, 41, of Salisbury Gardens, Welwyn Garden City, was found guilty of causing the death of Neil Smith by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs.

St Albans Crown Court heard how on November 30 last year Gatier fled the accident scene, leaving three teenage boys to comfort the 43-year-old victim, who lived in Welwyn Garden City and worked at St Albans City Hospital.

Gatier, who has a previous conviction for drink-driving, lay low for three days before handing himself into police.

Judge John Plumstead said that by driving off Gatier had “behaved in a callous way and showed no remorse.”

The judge said "I can't bring back Neil Smith who was an entirely responsible man who went to college and worked with his hands and was someone who qualified as an electrician and made something of his life.

“He was highly thought of at St Albans hospital and they have named a corner of a garden there after him. He was sober and was smashed into as he went along the yellow lines of the road - dressed as brightly as he could be with his lights on.”

The judge went on to describe Gatier as a "thoughtless, cowardly man who was driving too quickly" in the circumstances of a wet road at night.

A charge of death by dangerous driving was dropped by the judge at the beginning of the trial.

The judge banned him from driving for seven years and said he would not be fit to hold a public service vehicle again.

As he sent Gatier to prison he said: "I hope you now begin to think of people other than yourself."

The judge praised the three teenagers who gave comfort at the roadside to the dying Mr Smith saying: "They helped when the person responsible had not the guts to do so."