THE partner of a cyclist killed by a careless driver has labelled his sentence a “joke” and called for tougher punishments.

Paul Brown, 30, pictured right, was given 240 hours unpaid work and banned from driving for 12 months yesterday after he admitted causing father-of-two Joe Wilkins’s death by careless driving last year. Speaking to the Oxford Mail, Nicci Saunders, 40, called for the Government to impose longer driving bans for those convicted of causing death by careless driving.

Miss Saunders, from Eynsham, said: “The fact the judge put this case in the lower level of careless driving is just a joke really.

“For what he has done, and generally for people who do that, there needs to be a prison sentence. A year ban is just no punishment.”

Miss Saunders said those who cause death by careless driving should be banned from getting behind the wheel for at least five years.

She added: “At the end of the day he can carry on with his life almost as normal. It is for life for us.”

She said since the tragedy their daughters, Kyra, six, and Cory, four, have been waking up crying and cannot remember what their father looked like.

Miss Saunders said: “These girls will never have their dad around – their lives and mine will never be the same.”

“How do you keep the memory alive when they are that young and are forgetting already?

“It is hard work dealing with all this. I do not have many happy days but I try to be happy for the kids.

“Today I feel numb and just really let down.”

She first met Mr Wilkins, who was a retained firefighter and worked for Siemens Magnet Technology in Eynsham, when they were about five years old and pupils at Eynsham Primary School.

Brown, of Oxford Road in Eynsham, was acquitted by a jury last month of causing death by dangerous driving but admitted causing death by careless driving.

Sentencing at Oxford Crown Court yesterday, Recorder Andrew Burrows said although Brown had been holding a sandwich at the time of the collision, his eyes were on the road.

Brown was driving at between 55mph and 60mph along Eaton Road, near Appleton – which has a limit of 60mph – on May 24 when the accident happened at about 9.15pm.

Mr Wilkins had been cycling a circular route, that he had completed in the past, with a friend to prepare for a Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle ride.

Recorder Burrows said: “In my view this falls significantly below that of dangerous driving.

“You simply did not see Joseph Wilkins in the darkness until it was too late, albeit you ought to have seen him before you did and then taken the simple evasive action necessary to avoid him.

“You broke down sobbing in the witness box in the trial and express deep remorse for what you have done and deep sympathy for Joseph Wilkins’s family.”

Brown was given a community order to complete 240 hours of unpaid work within 12 months, a specified activity requirement to complete four sessions of restorative justice within 12 months and a 12-month supervision requirement.

He was also disqualified from driving for one year.