Death crash driver jailed

A DEATH crash driver who admitted it was likely he fell asleep at the wheel of his HGV on the A14 was today jailed for two and a half years.Lorry driver Simon Shepherd, 36, crashed into the back of the lorry being driven by Andrew Courtney on August 12 last year.

A DEATH crash driver who admitted it was likely he fell asleep at the wheel of his HGV on the A14 was today jailed for two and a half years.

Lorry driver Simon Shepherd, 36, crashed into the back of the lorry being driven by Andrew Courtney on August 12 last year.

The collision tore apart Mr Courtney's Renault lorry and left him trapped in his crashed cab. The father of two, whose wife Pauline was five months pregnant with their third child at the time, died of his injuries before rescuers could reach him.

Shepherd, of Bushfields Court, Peterborough pleaded guilty to death by dangerous driving and today Judge Neil McKittrick jailed him and banned him from driving for four years.


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Judge McKittrick said: “How on a summers morning in August last year can an accident occur in good weather conditions on a good road with limited traffic.

“I go with the view that you had almost certainly nodded off to sleep.”

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The court had heard that Shepherd accepted that he had either fallen asleep or was distracted by something before the crash.

Mr Courtney, who lived in Harwich, had been driving on the westbound carriageway of the A14 at Newmarket at about 7am on August 12.

A short while after a collision on the eastbound carriageway had seen a lorry jack-knife throwing debris onto the westbound carriageway.

Lorry drivers had stopped to alert motorists about the danger and having seen their warnings Mr Courtney had slowed his vehicle to a crawl. However, Shepherd who was travelling behind failed to slow his speed at all and he crashed into the back of Mr Courtney's lorry at 55 miles per hour.

Rupert Overbury, prosecuting, said: “The defendant failed to react to the fact the vehicle in front of him was slowing down.

“Nothing but his actions has caused the death of Mr Courtney.

“He said Mrs Courtney's life had been 'torn apart' by the death of her husband”.

William Redgrave, mitigating, had told the court that Shepherd felt great sadness and remorse over Mr Courtney's death. He said Shepherd had resorted to using drugs to deal with depression since the crash.

During today's hearing Shepherd also pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to take the minimum 45 minute rest break after four and a half hours of driving on August 8, 9 and 10 last year.

Judge McKittrick ordered him to face no separate penalties for those offences.

n. What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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