Family's rage over crash driver's appeal

THE father of an RAF servicemen killed in a road crash just days before his wedding said last night he was "disgusted" that a lorry driver was allowed to appeal against a two-year driving ban for his part in the accident.

THE father of an RAF servicemen killed in a road crash just days before his wedding said last night he was "disgusted" that a lorry driver was allowed to appeal against a two-year driving ban for his part in the accident.

Kristoffer Tott, 22, from Newmarket, died from serious head injuries after his car was clipped by an HGV – believed to be driven by Dutchman Huig Ouwehand - before careering across the A14 and smashing into the back of another stationary lorry in December last year.

Ouwehand, 52, from Katwijk, Holland, denied charges of careless driving and failing to stop after an accident but was found guilty by magistrates in Sudbury yesterday, who banned him from driving in this country for two years and fined him more than £2,300.

The Dutchman then incurred the wrath of Mr Tott's family by appealing against both the conviction and sentence.

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Mr Tott's father Alan, from Stockon-on-Tees, said: "This has been an absolutely tragedy for the whole family.

"We were hoping this was going to be some kind of finish but now we have to go through it all again.

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"We were quite pleased with the initial sentence and the high level of both the fine and the disqualification.

"But we are totally disgusted and displeased over the subsequent appeal process.

"The magistrates did their job to the best of their ability but we have now lost all confidence in the justice system."

In a statement read out in court, Mr Tott's fiancée Blair Anderson, who he met at RAF Mildenhall, said her life was now empty.

"I was there when he died in hospital and I was completely overwhelmed – I felt my life was fallen to pieces," she said.

"I feel that in one cruel act, our lives together were taken away. My life plans are now completely up in the air.

"We had started to make plans for a family but now I am just left with a broken heart and a shattered life."

Mr Tott had been driving in the middle carriageway of the three-lane A14 at Exning, near Newmarket, on December 1 when the accident took place just outside the 1,000 Guineas Service Station.

Eyewitnesses told the court that a lorry, believed to be driven by Ouwehand, had veered into the middle lane and clipped the back end of Mr Tott's Honda Accord, sending the vehicle shooting across the busy road and into the back of another stationary lorry waiting on a slip road.

Amanda Hughes, who was driving behind Mr Tott at the time, said: "I noticed a lorry in the nearside lane indicating it was going to move into the central lane between my car and the car in front.

"I thought it was extremely close to the car in front and immediately after I heard a bang and saw the lorry hit the rear of the car.

"The lorry then completed its manoeuvre while I saw the car at a right angle shoot across the nearside lane.

"I thought the lorry was going to stop but as soon as I realised it wasn't going to, I noted the registration number."

Although the court heard that the registration plate matched Ouwehand's vehicle, magistrates said they could not be sure he was aware of the incident after hearing Ouwehand denied all knowledge of it.

The defendant said he only heard about the accident when he returned to the country and was arrested eight days after the crash at Harwich docks.

Richard Atchley , defending, said: "There is question marks over whether the first lorry in question was driven by Mr Ouwehand while my client also disputes he was careless and the claim that he was aware there was contact with the Honda."

Police investigations into the crash revealed that there were only slight marks on the Honda and Ouwehand's lorry but an official report concluded that this was the probable reason for the crash.

Magistrates found Ouwehand guilty of careless driving but not guilty of failing to stop after the accident claiming they could not be certain he was aware of the accident.

The defendant also pleaded guilty to driving in excess of the maximum hours allowed and failure to take the required daily rest period.

Before announcing his plans to appeal, Ouwehand was banned from driving for two years, fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £362 prosecution costs.

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