Fakenham driver gets suspended jail term for causing death by careless driving

Ben Robinson’s Vauxhall Corsa veered onto the wrong side of the road and collided with Basil Stapleton’s Nissan Primera on the A1067. Pictured: collision scene at Stibbard. Photo: Supplied Ben Robinson’s Vauxhall Corsa veered onto the wrong side of the road and collided with Basil Stapleton’s Nissan Primera on the A1067. Pictured: collision scene at Stibbard. Photo: Supplied

Friday, March 28, 2014
5:23 PM

A 26 year-old driver from Fakenham got a suspended six month jail term after admitting causing the death by careless driving of a 76 year-old grandfather in a accident on the A1067.

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A young driver killed a grandfather and seriously injured the victim’s daughter after he drifted across the road for an “unexplained” reason and caused a head-on collision, a court heard

Basil Stapleton, 76, from Whissonett, was driving his daughter Alison Huntley to visit his grand-daughter, who was in intensive care at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, when the accident happened on the A1067, near the Stibbard crossroads on July 18, last year, Norwich Crown Court was told.

Mr Stapleton died at the scene from his injuries but his daughter, who was seriously injured ended up in the same intensive care unit that her daughter, who had contracted meningitis, the court heard.

Mrs Huntley’s injuries including broken bones in her neck, a shattered pelvis and broken ribs,

The driver of a Vauxhall Corsa, Ben Robinson, 26, also suffered serious injuries in the crash and spent three weeks in hospital.

Guy Ayers, prosecuting, said there was no obvious reason why Robinson had drifted across the road and hit Mr Stapleton’s Primera head-on, but after the crash he told one witness “I was tired. I was driving home after work. I am insured.”

He also was concerned for the welfare of the people in the other car involved.

Mr Ayers said that there was no mechanical fault on Robinson’s car, and he had not been speeding, using a mobile phone or drinking.

“It may be that he was tired.”

In an impact statement, Mr Ayers said the death of Mr Stapleton, who had been a HGV driver, had a huge impact on his family.

His daughter, Mrs Huntley, said he could always be relied on and the crash meant she never got to say goodbye to her father.

She also said her injuries meant she had to spend 13 weeks in a wheelchair and had to undergo several operations.

Robinson, of The Street, Kettlestone, Fakenham, admitted causing death by careless driving. He was given a six month jail sentence suspended for two years and a 23 month driving ban.

He was also ordered to pay £425 costs and ordered to take an extended test before getting back behind the wheel.

Michael Clare, for Robinson, said there was no evidence that he fell asleep at the wheel.

“There was a lapse in concentration, but he can’t remember what happened. This was an utterance made in shock and panic.”

He said he had just been returning home from his work in Dereham and he himself was seriously injured.

“He pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and deserves the fullest credit for his plea.”

Sentencing him, Judge Nicholas Coleman accepted Robinson was remorseful and that he was driving on the wrong side of the road at the time of the crash.

“What is less clear is why?”

He said he was not persuaded that tiredness was not a factor and said: “If anything underpins the signs we all see about tiredness kills, it is this.”

He accepted that what happened would be on his conscience for the rest of his life.

After the case Steve Matthews of the serious collision investigation team said: “This was a tragic incident where a woman was being driven tom visit her daughter in hospital then suffered the loss of her father and serious injuries herself. I would like to extend my sympathies to the family at this difficult time.”

He added: “Robinson has given no indication as to why he may have veered into the path of Mr Stapleton’s car, but has pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving. Just a momentary lapse in concentration whilst behind the wheel can have devastating consequences as seen here, and I would urge all drivers to pay full attention to their journey.”

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