A SPEEDING van driver who failed to see an 82-year-old woman crossing the road in a south Warwickshire village has been jailed.
Adam Leach had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to causing the death of great-grandmother Clare Wyatt in January this year by careless driving, having originally denied the charge.
He was sentenced to 28 weeks after a judge explained sentencing guidelines put the offence in a category with a 36-week starting point – before giving the 33-year-old credit for his plea.
Leach, of Wilson Drive, Cheltenham, was also banned from driving for 21 months and ordered to take a re-test before getting his licence back.
Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said the tragic events took place on the B439 in Bidford-on-Avon, as Leach, who had two previous speeding convictions, was on his way to work.
The self-employed electrician was in his Berlingo van on his way from his home to Stratford, and he drove through the village at 35 to 40mph at around 8.15am.
Mrs Wyatt was walking home from her early morning job at the Frog pub in High Street and had to cross Tower Hill.
She was more than half-way across when she was struck by Leach’s van and killed instantly.
Mr Jackson pointed out that an accident investigator who examined the scene found that Leach would have been able to see Mrs Wyatt when he was 90 metres from her, giving him ‘six seconds or so’ to have reacted to her presence if he was doing 30mph.
After the accident he pulled up, and was described by another motorist as being distraught and hysterical, accepting he was responsible but saying she had ‘come from nowhere.’
And when he interviewed ten days later, Leach, who was familiar with the road and knew it had a 30mph limit, said the 82-year-old had ‘suddenly appeared in the middle of the road,’ and he had not seen her until it was too late.
Eugene Hickey, defending, said: “He has struggled to come to terms with the fact that his driving was responsible for the death of another human being.
“It is clear in the pre-sentence report that he is very remorseful. He is devastated by what he’s done. He has been having nightmares and flashbacks.”
Jailing Leach, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones described the incident as ‘a catastrophe’.
He told Leach: “An active, popular, much-loved elderly lady lost her life because you weren’t paying attention.
“You have two previous convictions for speeding, but the extent to which you were exceeding the speed limit on this occasion is not as great as many cases that come before the court.
“It was inattention to what you were doing, a failure to understand the risk for catastrophe when each of us drive our motors.
“I am afraid I do conclude that the speeding convictions are aggravating features here, but balanced against that was your undoubtedly remorseful behaviour as soon as you had done this.
“I take into account the effect this sentence will have on your family, but I am afraid I am quite unable to conclude that this is a sentence which can be suspended.”