Nigel Kelsall given suspended jail term for role in crash which killed Bures mum Stacy Clague

Nigel Kelsall's car after the fatal collision

Nigel Kelsall's car after the fatal collision - Credit: Archant

A driver whose passenger died when he hit a tree should have ensured his partner was wearing her seatbelt.

Chelmsford Crown Court

Chelmsford Crown Court - Credit: Lucy taylor

Judge Patricia Lynch QC ruled that although Nigel Kelsall was not legally responsible for passengers aged over-14, “any responsible driver who allows a passenger to be in a car without a seatbelt on, goes over and above momentary inattention”.

Kelsall, 40, was behind the wheel of a BMW 03-plate 3 series convertible with his then girlfriend Stacy Clague at the time of the crash on May 20 last year.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard today how Kelsall was going around 5mph too fast to safely take a right-hand bend in Vinesse Road, Little Horkesley.

Kelsall, of Harwich Road, Colchester, lost control of the car which spun into a ditch before hitting a maple tree.

The impact killed Bures mum-of-two Stacy, 34, who had been dating lorry driver Kelsall for some months.

Her life support was switched off the day after the crash, after she had been able to donate her organs to help others.

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In a report Dr David Rouse, consultant pathologist, said wearing a seatbelt “may have prevented a fatal outcome”.

Carolyn Gardiner, prosecuting, told the court heard Kelsall was well below the 60mph speed limit but was not driving at an “appropriate” speed for the rural lane.

“He would not have had sufficient view around the bend to react or stop or avoid an incident if an oncoming vehicle appeared ahead of him,” she added.

Kelsall, a former soldier with the Royal Logistics Corps who served in Bosnia and Northern Ireland, had admitted a charge of death by careless driving at an earlier hearing.

Richard Conley, mitigating, said: “This was an accident caused by a misjudgement, one with devastating consequences upon everybody.

“Even the accident investigators agreed that the bend is initially somewhat soft but it tightens.

“He accepts he was driving too quickly but it is a question of degree.”

Mr Conley added that Kelsall, a father-of-one, had suffered with depression since the crash and had attempted suicide twice.

The court heard he was “a capable and experienced driver.”

Judge Lynch, sentencing, said: “This was inattention that has deprived a loving family of a beautiful child and a loving mother.

“I am certain no sentence I can pass can make up for your loss.

“To lose one child is a parent’s greatest fear. To lose two in a similar way must be almost overwhelming.”

Speaking to Kelsall she added: “As is often the case it is a combination of things.

“In your own words ‘I probably took the bend too fast’.

“This is the sentence – you have to carry this for the rest of your life, and regrettably so do her family.”

Kelsall was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for one year.

He must also pay a victim surcharge, and was banned from driving for two years.

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