A LORRY driver has been jailed for four years after a jury found him guilty of causing the death of a Flintshire family man by dangerous driving.
Christopher Williams, 47, was driving too close to an HGV in front of him on the A55 dual carriageway and therefore could not see two vehicles parked at the roadside.
One belonged to Mold grandfather William Owen, 81, who had pulled over with his wife Iris, 80, when their Citroen Xsara Picasso suffered a mechanical fault on the morning of Friday, September 4, 2015.
The second was a Ford transit recovery van belonging to ‘Good Samaritan’ Michael Rogers who had stopped to help the couple between the Posthouse roundabout and Broughton junction.
Both were parked tight to the barrier but with no hard shoulder on that stretch of road, they overlapped slightly into the inside lane of the carriageway.
When the first lorry pulled out to avoid the two vehicles, Williams found himself with no time to react and ploughed into both.
The impact at more than 50mph shunted the Transit van straight into Mr Owen, who was known by family and friends as Doug.
Sentencing at Chester Crown Court on Friday, Judge Roger Dutton said: “He was subject to such terrific impact that he was propelled from the carriageway onto the embankment of the railway beneath.
“He was alive when those who stopped tried to assist and they are to be commended for what they tried to do. But it was, it seems, quite plainly doomed to failure and Mr Owen sadly died at the scene.”
Mrs Owen – known more commonly as Rosemary – also suffered serious injuries, including two broken ribs, and was airlifted to Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool.
It was during the flight that she was told her husband had not survived.
Reading her victim impact statement, Matthew Curtis, prosecuting, said her first husband had also died in a road accident and she had struggled severely since Mr Owens death.
“I didn’t have chance to hold Doug’s hand to say goodbye,” she said.
Williams, of Cae'r Fron, Holywell, had denied causing the death of Mr Owen by dangerous driving, and also denied causing Mrs Owen serious injury by dangerous driving.
But it took the jury of eight men and four women less than four hours to return unanimous guilty verdicts on both counts on Friday following a four-day trial at Chester Crown Court.
Tom Gent, defending, described the case as “truly tragic” for all involved.
“The defendant is desperately sorry for what he did and for the terrible consequences of what he did,” the barrister said.
“He has thought every day since this incident of Mr Owen and of what happened on that road. It has affected him deeply.”
Williams, who has no previous convictions or penalty points on his licence, was jailed for four years for causing death by dangerous driving as well as three years, to run concurrently, for causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
He was also disqualified from driving for six years and will have to take an extended re-test.
He will lose his job as an HGV driver and his imprisonment means his wife will have to move out of the home they rent.
The court heard that Mr Owen was a big rugby fan and had been closely connected to Mold RFC, managing and training a youth team.
He served with the RAF as a mechanic and driver for many years, and had also worked as a coal miner.
He married his wife in 1958 and they had three children.
Mr Owen was described as in good health and “dedicated to his grandchildren”.
He also loved swimming, gardening, barbecues and ballroom dancing.
The judge told him: “He had every reason to expect that he would be able to live his latter years peacefully in the company of his wife.
“But you killed Mr Owen by your driving that day.
“Your driving was lamentably dangerous in my view. You were relying wholly on a driver in front of you.
“Quite why you chose to drive in such a dangerous way beggars belief but the consequences have been awful and I imagine you will remember that day for the rest of your life.”