Wallace McMenigall
Toby Wallace (l) and Andrew McMenigall (r) had just set out on a charity bike ride Internet

A sleep-deprived delivery driver who fell asleep at the wheel, killing two cyclists on a charity ride, has been convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and jailed for eight and a half years.

Truro Crown Court heard that Robert Palmer, 32, of Bude, moved down father-of-two Andrew McMenigall, 47, and Toby Wallace, 36, a former Boat Race competitor, on the A30 near Newquay, Cornwall at 8:30 am on the 2nd July last year. The men were just 40 miles into a 960-mile ride to John O'Groats to raise cash for cancer charities.

People should not drive when they are feeling very sleepy or, as you were, totally exhausted
- Judge Christopher Harvey Clark QC

McMenigall, from Edinburgh, and Wallace, from Philadelphia, who both worked for Aberdeen Asset Management (AAM), were killed almost instantly when Palmer's white Renault truck slammed into them. He told police that he night before the crash he had gone to bed and slept from 6:30pm, which turned out to be a lie: he had only had a few hours sleep and had been delivering goods overnight.

32-year-old lorry driver Robert Palmer was jailed for eight and a half years for killing two cyclists when he fell asleep at the wheel Devon And Cornwall police

"You completely ignored their presence on the road," said Judge Christopher Harvey Clark QC. "In the words of prosecutor Mr Lee you mowed them down. It is clear that at the time when this tragic accident occurred you were suffering from extreme fatigue and exhaustion You should not have been driving at all at that time. You failed to ensure that you took sufficient rests. People should not drive when they are feeling very sleepy or, as you were, totally exhausted."

A few weeks after the fatal crash Palmer was involved in another incident when he drove into the rear of a truck driven by Brian Rabey. Rabey escaped with minor injuries when his vehicle overturned.

Palmer, who had admitted two charges of causing death by dangerous driving and a further charge of dangerous driving, had been using his iPad to send texts. He was exhausted because he was also doing vehicle maintenance for Frys Logistics Ltd in Launceston.

Palmer's defence, William Sellick, said Palmer was truly sorry for what he had done. "He is only too aware of the pain and suffering he has caused and that is something that will remain with him for always." As well as his jail sentence Palmer was banned from driving for 10 years.