‘A tragic mystery’ - Driver caused fatal crash when he failed to see 18-tonne lorry

Serious crash on A149 near North Walsham. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Serious crash on A149 near North Walsham. Picture: Stuart Anderson - Credit: Archant

A van driver caused a fatal crash in which a newly-wed 28-year-old beautician died when he failed to see an oncoming lorry

Martin O’Brien, 56, was waiting in a filter lane when he turned into the path of the oncoming 18-tonne lorry on the A149 at Worstead, near North Walsham. The lorry then ended up in a head-on collision with a Ford Fiesta driven by Louisa Vardy, who only married her teenage sweetheart 10 months earlier, Norwich Crown Court heard on Friday.

Chris Youell, prosecuting, said Ms Vardy was pronounced dead at the scene.

In an impact statement, her husband Marc, said the couple, who grew up in Stalham, had been together for 13 years and Louisa was his best friend, wife and soul mate.

He said: “We intended for us to have a long and happy life together. We had so many plans, we both wanted to start a family,”

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He said he felt anger towards the driver and said: “The actions of the driver, who caused the accident, has taken away my wife and best friend and has denied me a family and happiness. It has impacted on so many people, devastating myself and Louisa’s family and friends.”

He said that life would never be the same and told how he had struggled to cope with the loss of Louisa, who was on her way to work at a Stalham salon the day of the crash.

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O’Brien, from St Andrew’s, Fife, admitted causing the death of Mrs Vardy by careless driving on October 24, 2018.

Judge Stephen Holt imposed a 10 month jail sentence suspended for two years and imposed a three year driving ban.

He said there had been an unacceptable delay in the case coming to court, which had impacted on the victim’s family and said it remained a mystery why O’Brien failed to see the lorry when he made the turn.

“You proceeded to cross the road without apparently seeing the lorry. How you missed seeing an 18 tonne lorry, nobody knows.”

He added: “It will remain a tragic mystery as to why you did what you did.”

He also imposed a six month curfew and 250 hours unpaid work.

Matthew McNiff, for O’Brien, said that he realised the hurt and heartbreak he had caused.

He said he simply failed to see the lorry and said: “He is desperately sorry for what happened.”

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