Cumbria Crack

Motorist sentenced for causing Penrith pensioner’s death by careless driving

Joseph Leech outside court

A DELIVERY driver has admitted his carelessness behind the wheel caused the death of a Penrith pensioner at the entrance to a town petrol station.

A court heard this morning (TUES) how Joseph Russell Michael Leech, 67, struck pedestrian Colin Jeffery as he pulled his Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van from a filter lane on Bridge Lane and into the Esso garage site in darkness just before 7am on 28th January last year.

Photo Cumbria Roads Police

Dash cam footage from Leech’s van captured the moment he struck 72-year-old Mr Jeffery – who was walking across the forecourt entrance – while travelling at 19mph. That speed, a police collision investigator concluded, was “excessive” for the approach.

Mr Jeffery was thrown to the ground and hit his head. He was treated by two doctors and transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he sadly died a fortnight later, on 11th February.

Leech of Whitecroft Road, Wigan pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving when he appeared at North and West Cumbria Magistrates’ Court this morning (TUES).

Kristina Lancaster, defending, spoke of a “momentary lapse of concentration” by professional driver Leech. He had not seen Mr Jeffery until the impact with his vehicle, his focus being trained on where he was going to park before buying a coffee.

In a moving victim impact statement, Mr Jeffery’s widow, Mary, told how her world had been “turned upside down” by the tragedy. “His death has caused a great emotional strain on my life and has left a big hole in our hearts which can never be mended,” she said of a man she described as a “happy, friendly soul”.

“I can never forget his final goodbye on a simple, innocent trip to get a paper,” she added. “I’m now wondering how I’m going to make it through life without him.”

A man of previous good character, Leech was described as “incredibly remorseful”. He was made subject to a 12-month community order comprising 200 hours’ work, and banned from driving for 20 months.

“You should have seen him,” District Judge Gerald Chalk told Leech of Mr Jeffery. “You know that, and I suspect that will live with you for the rest of your life.”

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