'Death fall' van driver jailed

A DRIVER has been jailed for failing to stop and to report an accident after his drunk passenger died after jumping from his van.Shaun Lancaster, 33, of Lime Avenue, Dovercourt, died after he leaped out of the former Royal Mail van of his friend, Peter Nook on September 5, last year.

A DRIVER has been jailed for failing to stop and to report an accident after his drunk passenger died after jumping from his van.

Shaun Lancaster, 33, of Lime Avenue, Dovercourt, died after he leaped out of the former Royal Mail van of his friend, Peter Nook on September 5, last year.

Mr Lancaster was three-and-a-half times over the drink drive limit.

Nook, 51, of Canning Street, Harwich, yesterdaypleaded guilty to failing to stop after the accident and failing to report it.


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District Judge David Cooper, sitting at Colchester Magistrates' Court, sentenced him to three months in jail for both offences, to run concurrently. He disqualified Nook from driving for three years and ordered his license to be endorsed.

Nook is also charged with drink driving, to which he pleaded not guilty. He is due to reappear at Colchester Magistrates' Court on July 22.

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Paul Evans, prosecuting, said Nook was driving his van at about 6.30pm on the evening of September 5 last year along Marine Parade, Dovercourt, when Mr Lancaster decided to jump out near the junction with Kingsway.

Nook drove off, then returned to the scene momentarily before parking in a nearby street. Police arrested him later that evening, initially on suspicion of murder.

After an inquest into Mr Lancaster's death recorded a verdict of accidental death, Nook was charged with three driving offences.

James Baird Murray, Nook's solicitor, said: "It would seem to Mr Nook that Mr Lancaster wanted him to take a different road to the one they were driving along and ordered him to stop. He threw the door open and witnesses would indicate he was standing at the door as a parachutist might.

"It never occurred for a moment to Mr Nook that anyone would choose to leap out of a vehicle which was being perfectly properly driven at the time.

"He was very close to a turning, so he turned left and left again and left again to get back to the road along which he was driving. There was already a small crowd of persons around Mr Lancaster's body."

"When he saw all the persons there he simply panicked and went home," he added.

Passing sentence, Judge Cooper said: "I accept entirely you're not to blame for Mr Lancaster's actions in flinging himself from your van. But I think what you did in failing to stop once he'd committed this almost insane act of jumping from the vehicle, returning to the scene for a couple of minutes and then driving off, shows callous regard for a fellow human being who was either dead or dying on the road.

"You put your own interests first and you left him there. It was unforgiveable."

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