The country had recently gone into the first pandemic lockdown, leaving London’s roads almost deserted and leading to a series of warnings from police about extreme speeding.
Inner London crown court heard McNeice was travelling at between 62 and 67mph in the moments before the crash, when the speed limit on Euston Road is 30mph.
“There was little or no traffic and hence, regrettably, I suspect you were speeding,” said Judge Ian Darling.
“Mr Whittaker was entitled to protection from people driving on the roads with him. In driving as you did, and for whatever reason, you took away that protection and that ultimately cost him his life.”
The judge said McNeice had caused “incalculable” damage to Mr Whittaker’s family, concluding only an immediate prison sentence would be appropriate.
“You have extremely strong personal mitigation, and the effect of a custodial sentence will potentially be disastrous to you, your daughter, your partner, your business itself and the people you employ,” said the judge.
“But I can’t ignore the fact your driving has caused the death of a person.”
The crash happened at around 1.20pm as McNeice and Mr Whittaker travelled in the same direction along Euston Road. CCTV showed the cyclist checking over his right shoulder before changing lanes, while the traffic lights ahead turned to red.
Prosecutor Ben Lloyd said McNeice was speeding and “ought to have seen the lights turn to amber, and ought to have been slowing down to stop safely at the lights”.
“He didn’t do so”, he said. “(He) did apply the brakes, however he did so far too late and collided with Mr Whittaker on his pedal cycle.”
The court heard McNeice had struggled with drug and alcohol addiction in his youth, but overcame his problems, set up his own business, and now works to help fellow addicts.
“He is so sorry that he has brought the pain and suffering that he has to Mr Whittaker’s family”, said his barrister Ian Bridge. “The is a genuine and heartfelt apology.”
The court was told Mr Whittaker’s mother, who lives in Bradford, was initially only able to see her son over Zoom as he lay critically ill in hospital, due to pandemic restrictions.
She was eventually able to travel to London, but her son died in hospital from brain injuries suffered in the crash.
McNeice, from Putney, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.