Published: 15:00, 20 May 2016 |
Updated: 15:46, 20 May 2016
A young driver has been jailed for 34 months for causing the death of a woman in a car crash in Brenzett.
Thomas Coleman smashed his Peugeot into the back of Sylvia Lloyds' stationary Fiat Seicento on the A259 near Brenzett.
The 62-year-old, from Romney Marsh, was flown to hospital with serious injuries, but could not be saved.
Coleman, 23, of Sycamore Close, Lydd, admitted causing her death by driving carelessly, but was convicted of the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving.
Moments before the collision Coleman had received a text message from his girlfriend on his mobile phone and may have been distracted by it.
He had been using his hand-held phone while driving earlier that day.
He had initially claimed to police he didn't realise Mrs Lloyds' car had stopped until it was too late.
But a jury heard that a police investigation had confirmed Coleman had been using his phone while driving earlier that day and was distracted and was likely to have been using his phone again to exchange text messages.
His car also had three badly worn tyres, one of which was so poor, it was leaking air.
Coleman agreed the state of the vehicle did constitute dangerous driving in itself.
During the trial at Canterbury Crown Court, a witness who was travelling in the opposite direction described the crash on February 8 last year.
Linda Jarvis, who was talking to her mother on her hands-free car phone at the time, said the Fiat was "driving very slowly or stopped" when another car came up behind.
"I commented to my mother about that. As the accident unfolded I said: 'Oh god, that car’s not going to stop!'"she said.
Ms Jarvis said the Peugeot "didn’t appear to slow down at all" adding that she was almost level when the crash happened.
"I felt and heard the impact of the two cars and saw all the debris coming from the cars."
She then stopped her vehicle, assured her mother she was OK and immediately called the emergency services.
Prosecutor Allan Compton told the jury: "It is our case that the defendant's driving at the time of the collision was dangerous and it was that dangerous driving that caused the accident and the death of Mrs Lloyds.
"The prosecution case is that his driving was not just careless but dangerous."
"Someone died as a result of your actions and this was avoidable" - Judge Heather Norton
Judge Norton told Coleman: “You should have seen Mrs Lloyds and you should have reacted before you did. The prosecution say this was because you were avoidably distracted by your mobile phone and you had admitted using your phone in your car earlier that morning.
“Driving while using a hand-held mobile phone is unlawful. Someone died as a result of your actions and this was avoidable.”
Phil Rowley, defending, said Coleman had been distraught at the death of Mrs Lloyds and wished to write to her family expressing his remorse.
“He is a decent young man, hard working and from a loving and close family,” Mr Rowley said. “In the relevant period just before the crash he had received a single text message.”
Mr Rowley said that the poor state of the tyres on Coleman’s car did not contribute to the accident.
“There is no doubt that he will find the experience of custody extremely difficult,” Mr Rowley said.
In addition to the jail sentence Coleman was banned from driving for four years and will have to take an extended test before he can drive again.
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