Anger over death crash driver's sentence

A LORRY driver found guilty of careless driving after a triple fatal road crash was caught speeding only three months after the tragic accident, a court heard.

A LORRY driver found guilty of careless driving after a triple fatal road crash was caught speeding only three months after the tragic accident, a court heard.

Three members of the same family were killed when the lorry Steven Williams, 35, was driving too fast "crushed" their car on July 10, last year.

But on October 11, almost three months to the day after the accident on the A144 between Bungay and Halesworth, Williams was found speeding in a lorry again on the A12 at Darsham.

Jurors at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday took less than an hour to find Williams, of Jenkins Green, Lowestoft, not guilty of three charges of causing death by dangerous driving, which he had always denied.

Instead they found him guilty of a less serious charge of driving without due care and attention.

Minutes after the verdict was delivered, prosecuting counsel Rupert Overbury said Williams had been given three penalty points for driving at 56mph along the A12 – exceeding the speed limit for lorries there.

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During the trial, Williams had accepted that by driving his articulated lorry at 54mph prior to the accident on the A144 three months earlier, he had "completely ignored" the 40mph speed limit for lorries.

The court heard that Williams' lorry, which was pulling an empty grain tipper, had driven into the back of a Toyota after the driver stopped on the A144 at Ilketshall St Lawrence to make a right turn.

The lorry had then veered across the road and ploughed head-on into a Honda Accord. The occupants of the Honda – Ivan and Pamela Jeffery, who were in their 60s, and Mrs Jeffery's mother Constance Rome, who was in her 80s – died in the accident. The three were from Downham Market, Norfolk.

When giving evidence, Williams said he thought about the accident "every day and every night" and had been prescribed sleeping tablets and anti-depressants.

Sentencing him, Judge Peter Thompson said Williams' speeding offence only months after "weighs on the mind as to your responsibility".

He said: "Of course the consequences of your driving were immensely serious and any penalty that this court imposes could not satisfy the feelings of the family of the victims.

"You drove onto the wrong side of the road at a speed that was excessive and because you did that you could not stop in time to avoid the car in front of you.

"You crushed the car that was being driven by a husband and wife and they were killed and the wife's mother was killed.

"The seriousness of that matter cannot be exaggerated. That puts, in my judgement, your failing to drive properly at the very top of the scale."

Williams was disqualified from driving for six months, which Judge Thompson said would mean he would not be able to earn a living from driving.

He was also given nine penalty points on his licence, which will be wiped off when he is free from the driving ban. However, Judge Thompson said he would not have to take any extra tests, as he had only been tested for his HGV licence in recent years.

Williams was also fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £200 in costs.

Matthew Breeze, Williams' legal representative, said: "Steven Williams is relieved at the result and just wants the opportunity to be with his family to come to terms with the case as a whole."

Following the trial, a survivor of the fatal crash told of her fury over the sentence handed to Williams.

Susan Lewis, landlady of The Plough pub in Wissett, was driving towards Halesworth along the A144 when she stopped to make a right turn into the village's High Street and was hit from behind by the lorry, causing her Toyota Starlet to spin round in the road.

Miss Lewis, who has lived in Wissett for two years and sustained whiplash injuries in the accident, said: "I think it's absolutely disgusting. Three people's lives have gone through no fault of their own. And what he (Mr Williams) has put other people through is horrendous."

Peter Deaking, clerk to Ilketshall St Lawrence Parish Council, who lives near where the accident happened, said: "In my opinion, it's a very slight sentence for such a serious crime, especially as he was caught speeding three months later. It's disgraceful."

Since the accident, the word 'Slow' has been painted on the road before the spot where the crash took place. New 30mph limits covering the accident spot are also due to be installed in a month's time.

Rev Simon Wilson, co-ordinator for RoadPeace in East Anglia, said: "The consequences of speeding are horrific for everyone involved and there is no excuse for it. It is always tempting to put your foot on the accelerator but people should think before they do that as there are consequences."