Driver jailed over death of Colin Taylor in Hitcham
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A hit-and-run delivery driver who drove off in a “blind panic” after a fatal collision with a 72-year-old Suffolk cyclist has been jailed for 36 weeks.
Following the accident in which retired council worker Colin Taylor of Hitcham died, Mark Tuffs told police he didn’t know he had hit him.
However, after hearing evidence from Tuffs at an earlier hearing Judge David Goodin rejected his account and said it would have been obvious to him that he’d hit someone.
“Colin Taylor was there to be seen and he wasn’t seen,” said the judge.
He said that following the collision Tuffs had checked his mirrors and the road ahead and seeing there were no witnesses he had taken the decision to drive off.
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Sentencing Tuffs at Ipswich Crown Court today (Monday) Judge Goodin said he did not feel able to pass a suspended sentence as the defendant had “cynically” failed to stop after the accident and had driven on.
Mr Taylor died at the scene of the collision and Judge Goodin accepted there was nothing that could have been done to save him.
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“The defendant in a panic drove on and completed his rounds and was untruthful and evasive in his later accounts with the police. He knew there had been an accident and that he left the scene,”added the judge.
Tuffs, 52, of Albion Road, Dagenham, admitted causing Mr Taylor’s death by careless
driving on the B1115 at Hitcham, near Bildeston, on November 29 2016.
In addition to being jailed he was banned for 16 months and ordered to pay a £140 victim surcharge.
Stephen Rose, prosecuting, said Tuffs, who was driving a box van, had made a delivery in Stowmarket and was heading for Sudbury when the collision occurred.
Tuffs denied being aware of hitting Mr Taylor and claimed that the windscreen and a wind deflector on the van had been damaged earlier in the day when he had hit a tree branch
He said he would have stopped if he had realised what had happened.
Initial police enquiries identified a property near to the collision scene had CCTV cameras installed. On reviewing this footage, officers found a white DAF lorry with “I’M HERE” written in dirt on the back, had travelled along the road around the time of the collision.
The vehicle was travelling in the general direction of having come from Stowmarket and towards Sudbury. Officers then reviewed CCTV from main routes around Stowmarket and as a result of this they identified that the same DAF lorry had made a delivery to a business in Stowmarket prior to the collision. The footage showed the lorry was undamaged at this time.
Officers also reviewed CCTV footage in the Sudbury area and were able to find the lorry travelling through the town following the collision, with the footage now showing it had sustained damage.
The vehicle was traced to a delivery firm in Barking and Mark Tuffs was identified as the driver on that day. His digital driver’s card corresponded with the vehicle’s tachograph, putting the vehicle at the scene of the collision at the relevant time and date.
Debris left at the scene of the collision also matched parts that were missing from the vehicle.
Marc Brown, for Tuffs, said his client was still struggling to come to terms with what he had done.
“The court found at the last hearing that he left the scene in a blind panic,” said Mr Brown.
Police: sentence may afford some closure to family
Chief Inspector David Giles, senior investigating officer in the case, said: “Mark Tuffs knew that he had struck Mr Taylor yet failed as a bare minimum to stop and check if he was ok, when he had of course been killed.
“He continued on his journey and then fabricated a story to his employers about having hit a tree branch to account for the damage to his truck, so as to further evidentially distance himself from the collision.
“Tuffs made no effort to report this to police and it was only the tenacity of the investigation team that identified him as the driver.
“Having denied responsibility throughout the investigation he ultimately pleaded guilty at the beginning of the trial, but even on that day he still tried to deny responsibility by stating that it was him driving but that he hadn’t realised he had struck Mr Taylor.
“There was a Newton hearing where it was found this account was disbelieved and the court accepted the guilty plea but only on the basis that Tuffs knew exactly what he had done. For this reason no reduction in sentence was awarded to Tuffs for his guilty plea and he will go to prison today for causing the death of Mr Taylor and I hope that this will afford some closure to his family.
“As lead investigator I would like to pay tribute to the efforts of my investigation team and to thank the media for their assistance in promoting this story as well as the public who took a significant interest in this case.”