Diabetic driver who caused death of 23-year-old motorist avoids jail

ipswich crown court

Thomas Treadwell was handed a suspended sentence at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A diabetic driver who caused the death of another motorist in a head-on crash after failing to check his blood sugar levels has avoided an immediate prison sentence. 

Thomas Treadwell, 31, had only got his licence back three weeks before the fatal crash that killed 23-year-old Aironas Gzimaila on the A120 between Ramsey and Parkeston, Essex, in March 2018. 

Treadwell, of Langdon Hills, Basildon, had twice previously had his driving licence revoked - in 2010 and 2016 - due to his poor management of his type I diabetes, Ipswich Crown Court heard. 

Judge Martyn Levett told Treadwell that his failure to check his blood sugar levels at a garage at Marks Tey around half an hour before the crash was "very careless". 

On March 27, 2018, Treadwell had been driving from his workplace in London to his girlfriend’s house in Harwich to surprise her when his Vauxhall Corsa crossed on to the wrong side of the A120 between Ramsey and Parkeston.

This caused a head-on collision with a Ford Fiesta, being driven by Mr Gzimaila - who died instantly.

The crash and Treadwell’s erratic driving in the lead-up to the collision was caught on the dash cam of a following car and was previously played to the court.

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Richard Kelly, prosecuting, previously said that in the footage Treadwell’s car could be seen “meandering” towards the near side verge before “meandering” towards the central line in the road.

The court heard that at the time of the collision Treadwell, who suffered serious injuries in the impact, was having a hypoglycaemic episode during which his blood sugar levels had fallen dangerously low.

Mr Kelly said people experiencing this appeared drunk and symptoms included confusion, difficulty in talking, sweating and blurred vision.

He said that DVLA advised type I diabetics to test their blood sugar levels less than two hours before driving and then every two hours after setting out on a journey.

Treadwell had stopped at a garage at Marks Tey around 8.15pm, around 30 minutes before the crash, and had bought a sandwich and a can of Red Bull, Mr Kelly said. 

He said that if Treadwell had tested his blood sugar levels at Marks Tey he would have been alerted to the fact he was about to go into hypoglycaemia.

On Friday, the court heard victim impact statements from Mr Gzimalia's family, and his sister described him as her "best friend" and said she had "sleepless nights" thinking of how much they could have done in years to come. 

Treadwell, who had no previous convictions, previously pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving. 

Addressing Treadwell on Monday, Judge Levett said: "It was you who made that conscious decision to drive off without testing as you know you should have done, and knowing that there was some risk of a hypoglycaemic attack, you took it.

"As you accepted in your basis of plea, if you had checked you would have been alerted to the potentially low levels."

But the judge said he was required to apply the law and Sentencing Council guidance.

He added: "It is widely recognised that sentencing cases involving death by careless driving such as this, is one of the most difficult and demanding tasks any judge in the crown court is called upon to undertake."

Judge Levett sentenced Treadwell to 12 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 250 hours of unpaid work, and 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days. 

Treadwell was also banned from driving for 10 years and ordered to pay £2,500 in court costs.