Published: 14:01, 17 August 2018
| Updated: 16:10, 18 August 2018
A confused driver who went against the traffic on a one-way system and fatally injured a motorcyclist has been jailed for two years.
Andrea Dagi was said to have not been familiar with the road in Maidstone when she missed no entry signs in the early hours.
The 30-year-old Hungarian was also not “overly familiar” with driving on UK roads and only travelled to and from her job as a payroll clerk.
Dramatic CCTV footage of the collision at about 5.15am on Friday, October 13, was shown on Friday at Maidstone Crown Court - a short distance from where it happened on Tonbridge Road.
It showed victim Fred McIlveen’s motorcycle, which was travelling at 30mph, colliding head-on with Dag’s VW Polo and being thrown into the air and onto the road.
The 60-year-old father, who had been on his way to work as a housekeeper at Maidstone Hospital, was taken to King’s College Hospital in London, where he died 19 days later.
Dagi, of Lancashire Road, Maidstone, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to causing death by dangerous driving.
Judge Adele Willams said she faced a dilemma in passing sentence on a hard-working woman of impeccable character.
“The sentence of the court will not satisfy either side,” she admitted. “I can only do my best in the circumstances.
“Imprisonment is inevitable but the court needs to strike a balance between punishment and what is fair and just in all the circumstances.”
Mr McIlveen was wearing a yellow fluorescent vest as he travelled from the direction of the town centre.
“The sentence of the court will not satisfy either side...” - Judge Adele Willams
Dagi’s partner had driven her car to work in Paddock Wood because his was being serviced. She was driving back home towards the town centre.
Prosecutor Kevin Dent said Dagi entered the one-way system the wrong way, “despite no entry signs, which she ignored”.
“She continued driving down the hill going the wrong way for approximately 100 metres,” he said.
She saw an oncoming van, braked and started to steer into an area near Vine Mews to turn, just as Mr McIlveen approached.
When Dagi realised she had hit the motorcyclist she stopped, put her hazard lights on and went to help him.
Mr Dent said Dagi could not explain show she drove the wrong way, as it was clearly marked. She said she did not see the motorcycle until she realised the van was coming towards her.
Lucy Luttman, defending, said the collision was a tragedy in every sense.
“The loss of an innocent life cannot be undone no matter how sorry she is,” she said. “Nothing I say can make any sense of it, I am sure. She of all people is acutely aware of that.”
Miss Luttman said as Dagi was not familiar with the route, she was anxious to retrace the way they had gone.
“She was not overly familiar with driving on UK roads she didn’t know,” she continued. “She would drive to and from work. Her partner would drive everywhere else.
“As she approached the one-way system she didn’t see the signs. That really is the start and the end of it. She was trying to concentrate on where she was going.
“She found herself driving into oncoming traffic, which was a complete shock to her. She was totally unaware until she saw the van coming towards her.”
Miss Luttman said after the accident Dagi regularly enquired how Mr McIlveen was.
She was “utterly devastated and distraught” to learn he had died from his injuries.
“She will never be the same person as she was before,” said Miss Luttman.
“She is a sweet, caring, kind young lady who is completely and utterly devastated about what happened.
“She is wracked with guilt daily and struggling to come to terms with what she is responsible for. Her remorse is utterly genuine, not for her but for Mr McIlveen’s family and friends.
“She will have to live with it for the rest of her life. It is a daily struggle for her.”
Dargi had since travelled to work by bus on a route which took her past where the accident happened.
“Prior to this she was happy and carefree, living a lovely life with her partner,” said Miss Luttman. “This was a terrible and unfortunate accident in every sense of the word.
“The justice of this case can be met by a suspended sentence order. Any (prison) sentence will expire long before any self-imposed sentence she is suffering.”
The maximum sentence for the offence after a trial is 14 years imprisonment.
“This was a terrible and unfortunate accident in every sense of the word..." - Lucy Luttman, defending
Dagi was banned from driving for four years. She will have to take an extended test before she can drive again.
Passing sentence, Judge Williams said Dagi had driven past distinct no entry signs and a traffic island to enter the one-way system the wrong way.
“I have no doubt you were distracted by travelling the wrong way on the one-way system and the van travelling towards you,” said the judge.
“Those factors overwhelmed you and that’s how you failed to see the motorcycle.”
The grief and anguish of Mr McIlveen’s family, she said, was still raw and hard to bear.
“Nothing I can say, nor any sentence I can pass, can in any way assuage that grief,” Judge Williams continued.
The victim lived with his sister and her partner, who lost their home because the tenancy was in his name. Sadly, his sister died three weeks after his funeral.