Crash milkman's tragic mistake

A milkman who caused the death of a man when he failed to stop at a junction during his early-morning round has been found not guilty of dangerous driving.

A milkman who caused the death of a man when he failed to stop at a junction during his early-morning round has been found not guilty of dangerous driving.

But the jury hearing the case at Ipswich Crown Court unanimously agreed that Michael Smith, from Pulham Market, near Diss, was guilty of the lesser charge of careless driving.

Smith, 40, was carrying out his deliveries in Livermere Road, Great Barton, last October when he overshot the junction with Mill Road and collided with a Saab driven by Paul Cundill. The 34-year-old was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, with serious head injuries but died six days later.

Smith, whose wife is licensee of the Falcon Inn in Pulham Market, told the court on Thursday he had no explanation for why he overshot the junction.

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“I think about it every day,” he said. “I never thought anything like that would happen to me and I do not understand why it happened.

“I do not know why I did not stop. I just lost my bearings and that is all I know. I just feel awful.”

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The court heard Smith, who became a milkman four years ago, had an exemplary driving record.

On the day of the tragedy, he was making a round that he had been doing for between four and six weeks, which took him from his employer's depot in Diss, to Bury St Edmunds, and on to Great Barton.

Reading from a statement made during police interview, prosecutor Lindsay Cox said Smith admitted on numerous occasions making a “conscious split-second decision” to deliberately continue across the junction after realising it was upon him.

Mr Cox also said Smith had failed to recognised hazard lines on the approach to the junction, which he had already crossed approximately five minutes before travelling in the opposite direction.

But Smith denied deliberately carrying on across the road, and said he told police he decided to cross the junction rather than brake because he was trying to find an explanation for his actions.

“I was looking for an answer for myself as well as the police, and for whatever reason, that's what I came up with,” he said. “I saw the hazard lines but for some reason it did not register what they were. I thought the junction was a lot further along the road.”

Summing up the case, Matthew Gowen, defending, said the accident was the result of “simply momentary inattention”, the consequences of which were “catastrophic”.

He also said Smith had overshot the junction and hit the Saab before he had time to do anything. “Mr Smith and Mr Cundill are two decent men whose lives had been affected in very different ways,” he added.

After hearing the verdict, Judge Neil McKittrick adjourned the case until later this month for a report on Smith's financial situation, but warned Smith he was considering disqualifying him from driving.


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