[A] MAN whose dangerous driving on the A66 left two motorists seriously hurt has been spared immediate prison.
As traffic slowed in front of him on the eastbound carriageway between Penrith and Appleby, HGV driver Roy Stuart Cothill was distracted by his tachograph. Carlisle Crown Court heard that as 48-year-old Cothill looked up it was “too late”, his Scania slamming into a braking car in front.
This cause a “domino effect” which left both married mother-of-two Claire Westgarth and pensioner Colin Butterworth – travelling in front of her – seriously injured. Others in front of them were also hurt.
In his police interview, Cothill admitted that he had not been looking at the road in the moments leading up to the crash. He had instead been using the tachograph device, scrolling through different options to check how much driving time he had left.
The driver of the Vauxhall Insignia suffered a broken arm in the collision and a head wound which required nine staples.
The Insignia was forced into the back of a Kia Venga. The driver suffered a bleed on the brain and a fractured sternum.
A Volvo and a Honda Civic were also involved in the resulting collisions.
Witnesses, including those involved in the collision, told officers there had been plenty of time for traffic to slow and many cars had put their hazard lights on to warn on-coming traffic.
The driver told officers in his first interview that he had been distracted by the tachograph but denied he had been driving dangerously.
Both Miss Westgarth and Mr Butterworth needed hospital treatment for injuries which had a profound effect on their lives. Miss Westgarth later described an “horrific” impact, while the 77-year-old, who suffered a bleed on his brain, was told by his doctor he will “never be the same”.
Cothill, of Front Street, Pity Me, County Durham, admitted two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, following the crash near Temple Sowerby on January 16.
A 16-month prison sentence was suspended for two years on account of mitigation. Remorseful Cothill must complete 200 hours’ unpaid work, rehabilitation and a two-year driving ban.
Judge Tony Lancaster told him: “As a professional driver, you will be well aware of the serious impact that road traffic accidents on those who are injured.”
Sergeant Graeme Hodgson of Cumbria Police said the case highlights the potential consequences of allowing yourself to be distracted for even a moment.
Sgt Hodgson added: “Drivers need to keep their minds on the task of driving. Numerous signs were passed warning of congestion prior to the truck reaching the standing traffic.
“This was not on a blind bend or crest of a hill but on a section of dual carriageway with a clear view of the traffic ahead coming to rest.”