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Pensioner who fell asleep at wheel and killed Carlisle gran on A66 is jailed

Ann Copley

A PENSIONER who caused a horror head-on A66 smash which killed a much loved gran after “falling asleep” at the wheel as he drove has been jailed for a year.

Colin Brown, 78, was in a Renault Master van towing a caravan which veered on to opposite side of the road and crashed into an oncoming Citroen C3 close to the Llama Karma Kafe, east of Penrith, on August 14, 2018.

Brown was heading from his Suffolk home to the Lakes and had taken three breaks during a seven-hour road trip, the last one with food an hour before a collision which unfolded in front of shocked eyewitnesses. As Brown‘s passenger wife slept, his van drifted for 150 metres in around six seconds across the road – in “slow motion” and without any evasive action or braking” – into the path of 76-year-old Citroen driver Ann Copley, from Carlisle. It gave her “absolutely no chance” to react, the city’s crown court heard today (FRI), and caused a collision which left her trapped in the car with every bone in her body broken.

Brown, of Upper Street, Layham, near Ipswich, admitted causing Mrs Copley’s death by dangerous driving.

In an impact statement, one of her three daughters, Penny Allison, said of the crash: “From that moment our lives have never been the same and never will be again. She didn’t deserve to go like that – no-one does.”

Mrs Copley, she said, was “full of life, happy and outgoing”, and “mentally still in her 50s, young at heart, very active”. Describing her mother’s loss as “immense”, Mrs Allison said she lived for her four “devastated” grandchildren, revealing: “They brought each other so much mischief and fun.”

Prosecutor Jeremy Grout-Smith added: “She was, in reality, the only grandparent of those children, and they have lost that generation now in its entirety.”

Andrew Nuttall, defending, said Brown’s remorse was “wholly genuine” and he had been left “utterly distraught”. “He fell asleep but he didn’t intend to do that. He never intended to hurt anyone. He never intended to drive poorly,” said Mr Nuttall. “There has been a death and he is responsible for it. It will haunt him for the rest of his life.”

Judge Nicholas Barker heard of Brown’s poor health, his own previous family tragedies and considered references, but imposed an immediate 12-month jail term.

“There are some who may observe that ‘what is the point of sending an elderly man of your age into custody?’,” said the judge.

“But I, and this court, recognise that there is a significant body of ageing population who drive; who also hold a significant duty of responsibility for their driving to the care of others. That is the message that, in my judgement, must be made and must be sent out.”

Brown will serve a three-year ban when released although Mr Nuttall said: “He will never drive again.”

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