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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Maidstone drink-driver Liam Davis faces jail over Brenchley and Matfield parish councillor Ronald Berry's crash death in Paddock Wood

21 March 2014
by Keith Hunt

A Maidstone drink-driver has been warned he is facing a jail sentence for causing the death of a parish councillor in a car crash.

Liam Davis lost control of his car and veered into the path of long-serving Brenchley and Matfield councillor Ronald Berry while almost twice the legal alcohol limit.

The 26-year-old bar manager denied causing death by careless driving while over the proscribed limit, but was convicted.

Motorist Liam Davis is facing jail over the death of a parish councillor. Picture Martin Apps

Motorist Liam Davis is facing jail over the death of a parish councillor. Picture: Martin Apps

The jury of six men and six women took over 13 hours to reach a 10-2 majority verdict.

Adjourning sentence for four weeks for reports, a judge told Davis, of Cleavesland, Laddingford: "You must be under no illusions there will inevitably be a custodial sentence."

Maidstone Crown Court heard businessman Mr Berry, 73, died after his Peugeot 406 was in a head-on crash with Davis' Land Rover Freelander.

They were travelling in opposite directions on Queen Street, in Paddock Wood, on December 3 2012.

Widower Mr Berry, who owned Burnbright Fuels in Lucks Lane, was driving towards Brenchley.

Both cars ended up in ditches. Paramedics were at first unable to release the victim from his car. He died at the scene from multiple injuries.

Long-serving councillor Ronald Berry was killed in a crash in Queen Street, Paddock Wood

Long-serving councillor Ronald Berry was killed in a crash in Queen Street, Paddock Wood

Davis, who told police he had two pints of beer at The Star pub in nearby Matfield, claimed Mr Berry was on the wrong side of the road.

But prosecutor Martin Yale alleged Davis lost control of his car. He failed a breath test and later gave a reading of 61 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

Father-of-two Mr Berry, who also had three grandchildren, established Brenchley Youth Club in the 1960s.

He was also a former secretary and treasurer of Horsmonden Social Club.

Mr Yale said Mr Berry's daughter Tina Middleton had submitted a victim statement, but did not wish it to be read out in court.

Judge Martin Joy said it might be appropriate to consider it was momentary inattention by Davis. He did not accept a suggestion Davis was callous or lacked remorse.

Ronald Berry owned Lucks Lake in Paddock Wood

Ronald Berry owned Lucks Lake in Paddock Wood

Granting conditional bail, he added: "The defendant must be under no illusions. Guidelines for causing death by careless driving while over the proscribed limit, where the driving arises from momentary inattention, say the starting point is four years imprisonment."

Judge Joy told jurors: "These cases are always terrible. No one can turn the clock back. You have done your part in this painful and tragic case."


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