Suspended jail term for driver who caused A66 pile-up

Date: Friday 29th September 2017

THE driver of an Asda supermarket lorry was given a suspended jail sentence at Carlisle Crown Court today for ploughing into the back of stationary vehicles on the A66 at Temple Sowerby, creating a "domino effect" that resulted in a five-vehicle pile-up.

Roy Stuart Cothill (48), Front Street, Pity Me, Durham, admitted causing serious injury to Claire Westgarth and Colin Butterworth — both from the Penrith area — by driving dangerously on the A66 at Temple Sowerby on Monday, 16th January.

Ms Sarah Magill, prosecuting, said at 1-05pm Cothill was travelling eastbound on the A66 dual carriageway Temple Sowerby by-pass.

The court was told he did not see the stationary traffic which had built up in front of him following an earlier incident on the same stretch of road that had required the recovery of a vehicle.

He told police in interview that he was looking at tachograph equipment inside his cab and had taken his eye off the road.

CCTV footage taken from a camera inside Cothill's HGV, was played to the court and showed that he made no attempt to brake before the collision. Ms Westgarth, who works for the Environment Agency, based in Penrith, suffered a break to her upper left arm, a broken toe, a cut to her hand and needed nine staples to repair an injury to her leg. She was taken to the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, for treatment.

The Vauxhall Insignia which she was driving was completely written off. It went into the back of a Kia Venga driven by a 77-year-old man who had to be airlifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital, Newcastle, with injuries which included a gash on his head, a bleed on the brain and a leg injury.

Also caught up in the pile-up was Brian Gale, who was driving a Volvo, with two passengers, Alfred and Annie Spedding, who all sustained bruising injuries, and Susan Finnigan, who was in a Honda Civic, and has suffered from headaches following the incident.

In a victim impact statement which was read to the court, Ms Westgarth said the six months following the crash had been "horrific". She had not been able to take part in activities including swimming, mountain biking and running and there had also been a big impact on the life of her family, as she had not been able to drive.

"I could not believe I had escaped a road traffic collision. I could have been killed, but I was not. I am going to make the most of my life from now on," she said.

Mr. Butterworth, who had worked as a stonemason and had previously enjoyed playing folk music, including touring across Ireland, said it now took all his energy just to get up out of his chair.

His back had been very bad since the collision and he was "tired and very slow". His independence had been taken away from him, he said.

Mr. Mark Shepherd, defending, said Cothill was sorry for what he had done. He acknowledged that his actions had changed people's lives forever.

"He is now a shadow of the man he once was and he is ashamed of the person he is because of what happened on that day," said Mr. Shepherd.

The court was told that Cothill's driving record had been good for more than 20 years, but he would now never get behind the wheel of an HGV again.

Judge Tony Lancaster said it was clear that Cothill was deeply ashamed and remorseful what he had done. As a professional driver he would be well aware of the serious impact that road traffic accidents have on people — not just the physical pain and slow recovery, but also the interference that has to be endured to people's daily lives.

Judge Lancaster said: "It is difficult to understand why you collided with the stationary traffic ahead of you. You were not looking where you were going, but adjusting a piece of equipment and took no evasive action."

Cothill was given a prison sentence of 16 months, suspended for two years, and was told he must carry out 200 hours of unpaid work plus 10 days of rehabilitation activities as part of a 12-month community order.