A SPEEDING white van man who was travelling at almost twice the 30mph limit moments before a Carlisle main road crash tragedy which killed a “superhero” great-grandfather has been spared an immediate jail term.
One eyewitness spoke of seeing 64-year-old Raymond Hull’s Mercedes Sprinter “absolutely flying” before his vehicle smashed into a Nissan Micra on London Road at around 12-45pm on October 18, 2018.
That Micra, driven by 90-year-old Leslie Todd, had been turning out of a junction across the southbound lane as he prepared to travel north after tending to his pigeons.
Mr Todd, suffered multiple injuries as his car was pushed across the road and into a wall, and was pronounced dead at the scene, close to the city’s Harraby Inn.
One CCTV camera overlooking the scene captured the crash. Footage allowed police collision investigators to estimate that Hull – heading south – had been travelling at between 50 and 53mph immediately prior to impact, and up to 56mph beforehand. Hull hadn’t braked and actually and, prosecutor Charles Brown told Carlisle Crown Court: “The only evasive manoeuvre that Mr Hull’s vehicle performed was to swerve slightly to his right, which unfortunately may have caused the collision to have been slightly worse than it otherwise would have been.”
Hull, of Sprinkell, Aspatria, initially denied causing Mr Todd’s death by careless driving but formally entered a guilty plea today (WED).
In a victim impact statement, Mr Todd’s family said their lives were turned “upside down” by his death. His six great-granddaughters, they said, had “lost their superhero”. “We very much regret that we were not given the opportunity to say goodbye to Dad, to tell him how much we love him one last time,” they stated.
Hull was said to be “genuinely sorry” and, said his lawyer, Jeff Smith: “He concedes, very frankly that he deprived Mr Todd of a future.”
After reading a probation service report which concluded immediate prison would have a “devastating” impact on three of Hull’s children – aged seven, 15 and 17 – Judge Andrew Jefferies QC suspended a nine-month jail term for two years. Hull must complete a nine-month night-time curfew, a three-year driving ban and take an extended re-test.
“You, Mr Hull, were driving simply too fast,” said the judge, who had stated of the victim’s family: “The sentence I pass is, can never be and is certainly not intended to be a valuation of Mr Todd’s life or for their loss.”
A statement was submitted to the court from Mr Todd’s four daughters, who spoke of the heartbreak they and their mother – married to Mr Todd for 65 years – had suffered following the collision.
Mr Todd was described as a “wonderful, kind, caring and quiet dad”, who “always ensured we were safe, loved and gave us encouragement to achieve our goals”.
His daughters added: “We are thankful to the people of Carlisle, to those who gave assistance to dad and to the wider public. Dad would be upset that the traffic chaos caused so much inconvenience to people.
“Once again we wish to express our thanks to the Police, Fire, Ambulance and Air Ambulance services for their swift response. To the medical staff who attempted to resuscitate dad and to the paramedic who held his hand when he was taken from us – we will be forever grateful for your professionalism and kindness.”
Sergeant Claire Sampson of Cumbria Police said: “It was clear from the evidence put before the court that Hull was driving at a speed considerably above the limit prior to the collision.
“As a result, the time he had to react to any prevailing incident was drastically reduced, it is clear from our investigation, had Hull driven at the speed limit, this collision would never have occurred.
“Whilst I am certain he did not set out to cause injury to other road users that day, his driving was careless and resulted in the death of Mr Leslie Todd.
“The thoughts of everyone at Cumbria Constabulary are with Mr Todd’s family and friends.”