Published: 00:01, 24 June 2014
A driver who fell asleep at the wheel and seriously injured an elderly couple has been jailed for 10 months.
Anthony Evans denied dangerous driving, claiming he had a blackout, but was convicted by a jury.
He was banned from driving for five years and will have to take an extended test before his licence is returned.
Maidstone Crown Court heard the 72-year-old's Mercedes Vito van smashed into Shirley and David Berryman's Ford Focus on the A21 at Castle Hill, Pembury, on February 6 last year.
Mrs Berryman died five months later from an unrelated illness. But because her husband was so badly injured and confined to a hospital bed, he was unable to spend precious time with her before she died.
After Evans, of Lillesden Park, Hastings Road, Hawkhurst, dozed off and caused the head-on crash on a bend, both vehicles ended up damaged at the side of the road.
"He has been in constant pain. He describes his distress at not being able to be by his wife's bedside towards the end of her life..." - Edmund Burge, prosecuting
"It was an appalling collision and one which caused grave injury to Mr Berryman and very substantial injury to his wife," said Judge Jeremy Carey.
Prosecutor Edmund Burge said the tragedy happened as Mr Berryman was taking his wife to Pembury Hospital because she was complaining of back pain.
She did not know at the time she was suffering from terminal cancer. Her injuries included a fractured pelvis and tear in her liver.
Mr Berryman, 83, suffered multiple fractures to his legs, arms and ribs and was detained in hospital and homes for five months.
Despite his age he was active, playing badminton once a week. His mobility had since been substantially reduced and he could no longer drive.
"He can now only walk with a zimmer frame," said Mr Burge. "He has been in constant pain. He describes his distress at not being able to be by his wife's bedside towards the end of her life.
"He requires 24-hour, seven days a week live-in care. Without it he would be in hospital full time."
Judge Carey told Evans he rejected the evidence he had no recollection of feeling tired and had no explanation to give, as he would have known he was fatigued.
Mr Berryman's life had been substantially impaired, he said. "He was a remarkably fit elderly gentleman still enjoying sporting activities and a full life which is now denied him.
"He is to be commended for his stoicism and lack of bitterness as not expressed in his impact statement."
Evans had lived an honourable and law-abiding life and had an exemplary work record, the judge added. He was in poor health, now having difficulty in walking, and his wife was also unwell.
"The court does not sentence in response to public opinion or clamour," said Judge Carey.
"The issue is whether the public interest is served by the imposition of an immediate custodial sentence.
"I reach the conclusion with reluctance, because of the mitigation advanced in relation to your wife and your own health, it must be an immediate custodial sentence."
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