Driver's fault in death crash court told

PUBLISHED: 15:26 28 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:56 03 March 2010

AN ELDERLY Suffolk couple were killed because the driver of a 40-foot articulated lorry cut across the path of their car in pitch darkness, a court has heard.

By Tina Heath

AN ELDERLY Suffolk couple were killed because the driver of a 40-foot articulated lorry cut across the path of their car in pitch darkness, a court has heard.

Pamela, 73, and Edward, Bishopp, 74, of Melton died in the accident on the A12 near Brightwell which is it alleged that trucker Keith Wright was responsible for.

Mr Wright of Church Lane, Ipswich who was driving a large goods vehicle for Bucklesham Road based hauliers Denison R. E. & Son, denies careless driving on December 19 last year.

South East Suffolk magistrates in Ipswich heard that the 52-year-old lorry driver had turned right on to the A12 in the direction of the Seven Hills A12-A14 intersection when the Bishopp's car ploughed in to the back of his 40 tonne truck, loaded with coal.

The crash barriers end at this point opening up a crossroads over the major road. At the time of the Bishopps' death The Evening Star launched its Close the Gaps campaign.

Speaking on the first day of the trial yesterday, expert accident investigator Pc John Rogers told the court that in his view Wright had not obeyed the basic rules of the Highway Code and failed to give way to traffic.

"If the collision had occurred some distance from the junction it would have different. You would have expected the driver (of the car) to have manoeuvred around the slow moving vehicle," said Pc Rogers, who is stationed at the Halesworth traffic unit.

"In this case the point of impact was only approximately 10 metres from the junction and the slow moving vehicle was only just on the point of being in the near side lane. It is my opinion that the lorry driver had not given way to the vehicle on the major road."

The force of the impact had caused "massive damage" the front of the elderly couple's blue Honda Accord, he said. There was a large jagged hole in bonnet, the body shell was distorted, the roof pushed upwards and the floor panels downwards. The impact to the rear of the Volvo FL10 goods vehicle had been enough to sheer off its suspension strut, which had been dragged along the road for a short distance.

Mr Bishopp, who was driving the car, was pronounced dead at the scene and his wife died of her injures later at Ipswich Hospital.

Answering questions from Ian Francis for the prosecution, Pc Rogers said that in his opinion side lights on the lorry had not been in good working order and that he believed this had a part to play in the accident, which occurred in darkness shortly before 6am.

He also said that there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Bishopp had braked or swerved in order to avoid a collision.

However under cross-examination from Rex Bryan for the defence Pc Rogers admitted that sidelights, which he had reported were "caked in dried on dirt" would have emitted a better light when still damp from surface road water.

Earlier the court heard how Wright, who said he had been driving for more than 30 years, believed he had plenty of time to cross the road and complete his manoeuvre.

Sergeant Colin Teager read from a transcript of an interview he had conducted with the defendant just two days after the accident in which Wright described the final moments before the crash.

"I could see the car, it was way back there and I thought still ample time. It must have been 300 to 400 metres away.

"I was into second, going up to third. I saw in the corner of my eye lights coming from behind - and then this bang. I thought it was a tyre blown. I stopped and it was the car that had hit me.

"The truck was all lit up, he should have seen me. It was just me and pitch black dark."

The trial continues.

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