Serviceman ‘driving too fast before fatal crash’

AN AMERICAN serviceman who was one of three people who died in a head-on car crash on a Suffolk road was driving “far too fast” shortly before the collision, a court has heard.

A colleague of Staff Sgt Mark Stephany had been following him to a Banger race in Mildenhall in May last year but dropped back after commenting to his passenger that Staff Sgt Stephany was driving “way too fast”, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

Two miles further along the A1101 at Icklingham, Sgt Brandon Mulford came across Staff Sgt Stephany’s BMW which had been involved in a collision with a Nissan coming in the opposite direction.

Staff Sgt Stephany, 24 and his passenger Senior Airman Daniel Addabbo, 23, who were both stationed at RAF Lakenheath, both died in the accident, as well as Gwyneth Wainwright, who had been travelling in the Nissan.

Yesterday Mulford, 29, of RAF Lakenheath, admitted careless driving in relation to an incident two miles before the fatal accident when he had followed Staff Sgt Stephany as he overtook two vehicles shortly before a blind bend on the A1101 at Flempton.

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Fining Mulford �850 and ordering him to pay �1,000 costs, Judge Peter Fenn said the overtaking manoeuvre had been a case of “cutting it too fine.”

He said that shortly after the overtaking manoeuvre Mulford, who was driving a Ford Mustang, had decided it would be foolish to try to keep up with Staff Sgt Stephany and from that point had dropped back.

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“What happened was that the BMW carried on driving too fast for the prevailing conditions and two miles later you came across the fatal collision,” said Judge Fenn.

“I’m not sentencing you for any involvement in the fatal accident – only for the piece of careless driving when you overtook those two other vehicles when you were intent on keeping up with your colleague in front.

In addition to the fine and costs, Mulford was ordered to pay a �15 victim surcharge and had his licence endorsed with six penalty points.

Samantha Leigh, prosecuting, said Mulford had been following Staff Sgt Stephany because he didn’t know his way to the Banger racing venue.

She said that after Mulford had followed Staff Sgt. Stephany as he overtook two vehicles shortly before a bend he had commented to his passenger that the BMW was going “way too fast.”

Jonathan Seely, for Mulford said he was deeply apologetic, for the overtaking manoeuvre.

He said his client had lost a colleague and a friend in the accident and had done everything he could to assist at the scene.

He said that Mulford had been in the USAF for six years and was highly regarded.

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