Driver in fatal crash ‘dazzled by sun’

A VOLUNTEER driver whose passenger died after his car was involved in a head on collision as they drove home from a club outing told police he had been dazzled by the sun, a court has heard.

Vincent Miley, 51, was returning from a Woodbridge Pathway Club barbecue in 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 several days later.

During questioning following the accident Miley told police he had been dazzled by the sun and instead of following a left hand bend in the road he had driven straight ahead resulting in the collision with the Renault Megane driven by Douglas Garnham.

Miley, 51, of Cornwall Road, Felixstowe, has denied causing Mrs Spratt’s death by careless driving on August 21 last year.

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Michael Crimp, prosecuting, said Mrs Spratt was a founder member of the Pathway Club in Woodbridge which helped a variety of people including those with mental and learning disabilities and people who were lonely.

On August 21 last year Miley, who was a volunteer driver for the club, had picked up Mrs Spratt, her 21-year-old granddaughter Sam Miller and Grace Clarke, a close friend of Mrs Spratt, and had taken them to a barbecue for club members in Sizewell.

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Normally Miley would have driven along the A12 but was persuaded by his passengers to take the country route through Snape.

The accident happened at around 4pm as Miley was driving back in the direction of Ipswich on a stretch of road where road markings had been removed during road resurfacing work.

Mr Crimp said that although there were no central white lines in the road there was a hazard sign clearly indicating a left hand bend ahead.

Mrs Spratt, who was a back seat passenger in the car, suffered a number of injuries including fractures and bruising. “She was admitted to hospital for treatment but tragically peritonitis set in and a few days later she passed away,” said Mr Crimp.

Pc Lisa Vaughan who went to the scene of the accident told the court that the sun had been “incredibly bright” and she had found it difficult to see.

She said that Miley and Mr Garnham had both been happy to let their insurance companies deal with the accident and at the time there had been no suggestion that Miley should be prosecuted for careless driving.

In a statement read to the court Mr Garnham, who was driving the car hit by Miley’s vehicle, said that following the accident Miley had approached him and said, “Sorry, the sun was in my eyes.”

In a statement also read to the court Mrs Clarke, who was a rear seat passenger in Miley’s car, said she had been a passenger in his car many times before. “I have never had any concerns about Vincent’s driving - if i had I wouldn’t have been in the car with him. He didn’t drive fast, he didn’t take any risks and he was always careful,” she said.

Pc Richard Godden said that during questioning after the accident Miley said he’d been involved in the Pathway Club for 12-15 years and as a volunteer driver he was paid petrol money. He described Mrs Spratt as being “like a second mother to me” and also said: “If I had only got one wish it would be to bring Joy ( Mrs Spratt) back.”

The trial continues today (Tues).

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