Motorist avoids jail after admitting causing death of Hemingby man

News from the courts ANL-171019-151707001
News from the courts ANL-171019-151707001

A Lincolnshire motorist who admitted causing the death of a Hemingby scooter rider on a country road in Bucknall today (Thursday) avoided an immediate jail sentence at Lincoln Crown Court.

Stephen Sprakes,(62), of Lincoln Road, Branston, turned right at a T-junction straight into the on-coming motor scooter being ridden by Mark Russell, (55) of Hemingby, causing fatal injuries.

Greg Purcell, prosecuting, said that although Sprakes slowed down as he approached the junction, he did not brake and turned into the path of the scooter.

Mr Russell was thrown from his machine and knocked unconscious.

He suffered serious chest injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The collision occurred in Bucknall as Mr Russell was on his way from work in Horncastle to Bardney.

Mr Purcell said that another motorist, Adrian Snell, who was travelling behind Sprakes’ vehicle, witnessed the lead up to the incident.

“He describes the driving of Sprakes as perfectly proper as he followed him,” Mr Purcell said.

“At the point of the collision, Mr Snell was about 40 yards behind Sprakes.

“He noticed the Ford Wildtrak slow and indicate to the right. The Ford did not brake. It simply slowed to 15 to 20mph. As soon as the Wildtrak turned he heard a loud noise.”

Mr Purcell added that immediately after the collision, Sprakes pulled up and went to the assistance of Mr Russell who was thrown into a drainage ditch.

An off-duty police officer also stopped to assist and the Air Ambulance arrived shortly afterwards.

“Nothing could be done to save the life of Mr Russell and he was pronounced dead at the scene,” Mr Purcell said.

Mr Purcell said that Sprakes would have had the scooter in view for 220-metres before the collision.

He said: “Mark Russell was wearing a white helmet and the head light on his vehicle was operating, so he should have been more easily seen. He was there to be seen.

“Examination of the vehicles showed no defects that would have contributed to the incident. Neither driver was affected by drink or drugs and neither was distracted by the use of a mobile phone.

“On the day there were road signs that had been put out giving information about a road closure. Those signs may have been the focus of Mr Sprakes’ attention but they had been placed correctly.”

Mr Russell, a father of two, served in the Royal Air Force and then worked as a horticultural engineer.

His widow Heike Goedelt-Russell described him as a most caring husband who was her “rock” but said she did not want to see Sprakes go to prison.

In a victim impact statement, she said: “Mark would not have wanted the loss of his life to ruin the life of another. He would have said ‘It is what it is’. He would have hoped Mr Sprakes had been more careful.”

Sprakes admitted a charge of causing death by careless driving as a result of the incident on March 31 this year.

He was given a six-month jail sentence suspended for 12-months, with 200 hours of unpaid work.

He was banned from driving for two years.

Judge John Pini QC, passing sentence, told Sprakes: “Mr Russell was there to be seen and would have been in view for 220 metres and for a period of eight seconds. He was visible and he had right of way.

“In your interview you said you looked but simply did not see him. Alcohol was not a factor. Speed was not a factor. Mobile phones were not a factor.”

The judge said that the statement of Heiki Goedelt-Russell was profoundly moving and added: “It is to their enormous credit that they make the observation that Mark would not want the end of his life to ruin the life of another. They do not wish to see you sent to prison.”

Tom Gent, in mitigation, said that Sprakes had been driving for over 40 years without any endorsements on his licence.

He told the court: “This is a tragic case. He is desperately sorry. His heart goes out to those Mr Russell has left behind.

“He has suffered greatly with the fact that another life has been taken as a result of his actions. He has lost a considerable amount of weight. He struggles to sleep at night. There is no doubt that this incident will forever haunt him.

“He accepts entirely that he was insufficiently attentive and his driving was below the required standard.

“He was confused by the road sign. It indicated that the road was to be closed soon after this date. He can recall looking carefully and trying to work out what it meant. In the process he continued to move slowly forward without checking the road ahead.”