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Garage man's aggressive driving led to child's death

Mark Sansom was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court
Mark Sansom was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court

A garage foreman whose aggressive driving resulted in the death of an 11-year-old girl, has been jailed for five years.

Mark Sansom, 50, was tailgating other vehicles and exceeding the speed limit when he approached an S bend along the A258 Dover to Deal road at over 60mph.

He was forced to brake hard when he came up to a line of vehicles waiting to pass a broken down Fiesta on the bend, skidded out of control and into the path of an on-coming black Fiesta.

The vehicles collided and the Fiesta went up a bank. It collided with a Honda that Sansom had sped past moments before and rolled over.

Debra Bell, who was driving the black car, was trapped in the vehicle and had to be cut free.

Samantha Horne who had been in the back with Mrs Bell’s daughter, died of multiple injuries at the scene.

Mrs Bell’s son was also in the car and both her children and a passenger in the Honda were injured.

But Sansom, in evidence at his trial at Canterbury Crown Court for causing death by dangerous driving, denied he had been tailgating or speeding and didn’t accept his driving on the afternoon of May 26 last year had been dangerous.

Judge Adele Williams told Sansom, of Milldale Close, Deal that he had been convicted on clear and compelling evidence. "This was very bad driving which led to tragic consequences," she said.

Sansom was going shopping and had no need to hurry. He knew the road well and that it was an accident blackspot with a 50mph speed limit.

Samantha had been at Mrs Bell’s on a sleepover and they were returning home after a shopping trip.

Judge Williams said moving victim impact statements from Samantha’s family showed she was a loving delightful child looking forward to starting secondary school in the autumn and being bridesmaid at her sister’s weddings as well as going on holiday with another sister. She was the youngest child and her family were devastated by her loss.

Judge Williams said Sansom’s aggressive driving and his speed as he approached the S bend, put the case into the high culpability range.

The judge added: "The whole course of your driving on this occasion, which was totally inappropriate for that piece of road, put it into that catagory and apart from causing the death, you caused injuries to four other people."

Sansom was banned for seven years and must take an extended driving test before regaining his licence.

Peter Forbes, for Sansom, said he was desperatly sorry for the loss of life and devastated that he had caused the death of a child.

He said it was unfortunate there was a broken down vehicle on that stretch of road and at the time he came up behind the other vehicles, he must have been doing less than 50mph because they were within the speed limit.

There were no previous motoring convictions for reckless, careless or dangerous driving and the impact on Sansom’s family had been considerable.

Judge Williams directed her sentencing remarks go to the highway authority who in consultation with local police should look again at the speed limit for that stretch of road and consider whether the speed limit is too high.

"But having said that, no speed limit would protect against drivers. It is drivers driving too fast in the circumstances and not driving in accordance with the way they should, that cause accidents."

She also commended officers involved in the case for their thorough, painstaking and careful investigation.

Judge Williams also paid tributes to both the Horne family and Sansom’s family who sat in court throughout the seven day trial saying they had behaved with the utmost dignity.

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