Death crash driver found not guilty

A VOLUNTEER driver whose passenger died after his car was involved in a head-on collision as they drove home from a club outing has been cleared of causing her death by careless driving.

Vincent Miley, 51, was returning from a Woodbridge Pathway Club barbecue at Sizewell when his Vauxhall Astra drove into the path of a Renault Megane travelling in the opposite direction on the B1069 at Tunstall, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

One of Miley’s passengers, 81-year-old Joy Spratt, of Tasmania Road, Ipswich, was injured in the collision and died in hospital nine days later.

Miley, of Cornwall Road, Felixstowe, denied causing Mrs Spratt’s death by careless driving and was found not guilty by a jury after a three- day trial.

Giving evidence, Miley, a retired assistant civil engineer for British Rail, blamed blinding sunlight and a lack of road markings for the collision.

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On August 21 he had picked up Mrs Spratt, her friend Gay Clarke and Mrs Spratt’s 21 year-old granddaughter and driven to Sizewell.

They had been driving back to Ipswich along the B1069 around 4pm when he had driven straight ahead instead of following a left hand bend in the road resulting in the collision with the Renault Megane which was coming in the opposite direction.

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Miley said that immediately before the collision he had been driving in shade but had then been blinded by the sun and hit the other car after mistaking a turning to the C334 for a continuation of the B1069.

He said on the day of the accident there were no central white lines in the road or lines at the side of the road as it had recently been resurfaced.

Miley, who has no previous convictions, said foliage had obscured a sign warning of the approaching left hand bend.

He told the court that Mrs Spratt had been a good friend and he missed her.

During the trial a policewoman told the court the sun had been “incredibly bright” on the day of the accident and an accident investigator conceded that “to some degree” the sun could have interfered with Miley’s view of the road ahead. The court also heard that portable signs warning motorists about the absence of road markings due to resurfacing work had fallen over and were face down on the ground.

Mrs Spratt had been married to her husband Len for 32 years and had worked at St Clement’s Hospital for 25 years as an occupational therapist. After leaving the hospital, Wickham Market born Mrs Spratt ran the Pathway Club in Woodbridge which helped people with a variety of problems.

Following his wife’s death, Mr Spratt said: ”She was a wonderful person. She was a Joy by name and a joy by nature.”

Mrs Spratt lived in Woodbridge for much of her life and her father Stanley Hawes ran a popular fish and chip shop in the town.

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