Pensioner jailed after death crash

A PENSIONER has today been jailed for 16 months for causing the death of a policeman during a road accident.

A PENSIONER has today been jailed for 16 months for causing the death of a policeman during a road accident.

Patricia Maltby, 71 of Christopher Lane, Sudbury was jailed at Ipswich Crown Court after she pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to causing the death of motorcyclist Sergeant Bob Walsham, an Essex police officer who lived in Hadleigh.

The court heard that the accident happened on the London bound carriageway of the A12 at East Bergholt on January 29 this year.

Michael Crimp, prosecuting, said eyewitnesses saw Maltby's Vauxhall Corsa come to a stop in the slow lane prior to her attempting to cross the dual carriageway to take the B1068 towards Stoke-By Nayland.

He said one concerned driver slowed before passing her in the fast lane while a lorry had to take avoiding action to pass her on the inside.

Mr Crimp said Sgt Walsham was approaching at an estimated speed of between 75mph and 80mph when Maltby went ahead with a right turn across the road.

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“He [Sergeant Walsham] had no time to do anything to avoid the collision,” Mr Crimp said.

“As soon as the Corsa pulled out he was going to collide no matter how good a rider he was or what he did.”

The court heard that during interview Maltby told officers she had checked her mirrors and saw two cars as well as a motorbike “far back”.

She said she carried out the manoeuvre once the cars had passed.

“I left it too late and made a very bad misjudgement,” she said in interview.

“I think it was the traffic. “I don't really know. “It was a combination of trying to turn off and the noise of the vehicles going past.

“It was too much.”

Nicola May, mitigating, said the incident continues to have a big impact on her client who is taking pills to sleep as well as medication for anxiety and remains “horrified” by the consequences of her actions.

“She appreciates that whatever she says cannot bring Mr Walsham back,” she said.

“She will have to live with the heavy burden of knowing she was responsible for the death of another person.”

Ms May added that Maltby was an upstanding member of the community and has been involved with volunteer work.

“This was a one-off moment of madness that had absolutely tragic consequences,” Ms May said.

“A custodial sentence will effectively destroy her life.”

Judge Neil McKittrick described Maltby's manoeuvre as “breathtakingly dangerous” and said it could easily have involved another vehicle.

“That manoeuvre should never have been undertaken from the position which you started,” he said.

“It was dangerous in its conception and dangerous in its execution.

He added that the incident calls into question whether such junctions should be permitted on dual carriageways.

Maltby was jailed for 16 months and banned from driving for five years.

Outside the court Sgt Walsham 74-year-old mother Betty Walsham said: “She got 16 months and Bob got a life sentence.

“She will come out and she won't even serve 16 months. She will get on with her life.”

Sgt Walsham's friend and former colleague, Peter Gardner, said: “We are satisfied with the sentence in many respects. The lady went on about remorse but an apology would have been nice.

“It doesn't bring Bob back, nothing would have done. He was a fantastic bloke and just generally a good guy.”

Sgt Walsham had served with Essex police for 19 years, during which time he was awarded three chief constable's commendations and the Millard Trophy for work in west Clacton.

He helped the Black Shuck Motorcycle Club to raise money for local charities and in August last year he helped the club put on a motorbike rally in aid of Ipswich's St Elizabeth Hospice.

He had three children from a previous marriage, including a daughter called April, who died soon after birth.

He was due to marry his fiancée Emma Claxton in August this year.