DCSIMG

Cyclist flung into front seat of drink driver's car by deadly impact

A CYCLIST died after being struck by a drink-driver and ended up through the windscreen and on the lap of a passenger in the car, a court heard yesterday.

Kostas Tourlas, 38, had been on a bike ride with his girlfriend and did not hear her screams that a car was careering towards him. He was hit and suffered a broken neck.

The motorist, Andrzej Stankiewicz, 42, was travelling at around 70mph when the accident happened and was later found to be three times the legal alcohol limit.

Witnesses arrived on the scene to see Mr Tourlas's body lying on a front seat passenger.

Stankiewicz, of Winchburgh, West Lothian, admitted causing the death of Mr Tourlas, a software consultant, of South Fort Street, Edinburgh, by driving without due care and attention and while unfit through drink on 12 June on the B9080 at Kirkliston. He will be sentenced next month.

Mr Tourlas was Greek but moved to Scotland as a teenager to attend Edinburgh University.Family members travelled from Greece to attend the High Court in Edinburgh.

They said in a statement: "Today's guilty plea means that part of the drama comes to an end. However, the grief we feel will remain with us for ever. Kostas's life was taken in an especially tragic way, but we are not interested in revenge, because we believe that the value of a life is not negotiable.

"Instead we hope that what happened serves as a warning to others of the consequences of drinking and driving."

Inspector Simon Bradshaw, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: "While those who drink and drive are very much in the minority, it remains essential that we continue to drive home the message that such selfish behaviour can destroy lives."

The court heard Stankiewicz, a Polish national who has worked for a kiltmaking firm in Scotland for four years, had been drinking heavily the night before, and consumed beer that day.

Mr Tourlas and his girlfriend, Kathleen Ralston, 41, had just come off a roundabout leaving Kirkliston when Ms Ralston suddenly became aware of a blue Fiat Ulysee approaching at speed.

"She tried to call out a warning to the deceased who did not appear to hear," said the advocate-depute, Alex Prentice, QC.

"The car crossed over to the westbound carriageway and struck the deceased head on. The deceased struck the windscreen, causing it to shatter, and he landed on the passenger, Vernor Hartos."

Pathologists found Mr Tourlas had broken his neck when his face hit the windscreen and would have died very quickly.

Stankiewicz was breath-tested and gave a reading of 104, the legal limit being 35. Crash investigators concluded he failed to take a slight bend and lost control.His speed at the time of the collision was estimated at 71mph.

The defence solicitor-advocate, Robbie Burnett, said Stankiewicz offered his sincere regret to Ms Ralston and Mr Tourlas's family. He was finding it hard to come to terms with what had happened, and had asked for psychological help.

"He continues to be shocked and horrified at what he has done, and the tragic consequences. He has told me he was brought up an honourable man in an honourable family, and as he came to the end of his life, he was hoping to answer 'Yes' to the question, 'Have you had a good life?'

"At the age of 21, he helped pull a lady from the sea and assisted in saving her life, and he was confident he could answer that question that way. Now, he realises he can't."

 
 
 

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