THE family a Wallingford cyclist killed by a drink driver have launched a petition calling for tougher sentences.

Research chemist Graham Ruecroft, 55, was riding his bike on Wallingford Road on June 4 last year when he was hit by a dark-coloured Kia being driven by Maria Sutton, who was over the legal alcohol limit.

Sutton, of Newlands Way in Cholsey, failed to stop afterwards and Dr Ruecroft died of his injuries in hospital five days later.

Sutton was arrested on June 5 and pleaded pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by failing to stop at the accident at Oxford Crown Court on December 23.

Earlier this month she pleaded guilty to causing death by driving without due care and attention whilst over being over the prescribed alcohol limit, and she has now been remanded in custody to be sentenced at the crown court on May 19.

The maximum sentence is currently 14 years but Dr Ruecroft's brother Malcolm said he believed it should be higher, to reflect the fact that life sentences can be handed out for murder and manslaughter.

The family now hope people will support their petition to Justice Secretary Michael Gove for tougher sentences for people who cause death by dangerous driving.

Speaking to the Mail from County Durham, Mr Ruecroft said: "What Sutton did after the incident – she left him in the road to die – that is what has destroyed us the most. Now we need justice."

He said that Sutton's guilty plea had come as a "great relief" but said "no sentence she receives can ever bring Graham back".

The 57-year-old added: "When I came out of the court last week I felt flat but most of all devastated it has taken so long to get to this point.

"Our family has been doing round trips of 500 miles to be there and that has been exhausting."

Mr Ruecroft has been attending the court hearings over the past nine months with his sisters Susan and Anita and his 81-year-old father, Malcolm.

He added: "My father has been in tears, he has lost a son.

"You can understand things like heart attacks and health conditions, but when something like this happens and it is so quick it can take a long time for you to catch up."

Dr Ruecroft was born in Durham on July 31, 1960, and was living in Wallingford with his long-term partner Helen.

He spent 28 years working in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, and co-founded Oxford firm Prosonix, which researched and developed asthma drugs and inhalers.

He was also an accomplished trumpet, cornet and flugal horn player performing with Chalgrove Brass Band and was later a founding member of Oxford and Cherwell band.

Oxford and Cherwell conductor Terry Brotherhood said his bandmate was a "fantastic" player, an impressive intellect, but overall a "fabulous bloke".

To view or sign the petition set up by Mr Ruecroft's brother, click here.