Driver who fell asleep at the wheel on the A64 near Malton is jailed for causing the death of 70-year-old woman

Jackie Lamb
Jackie Lamb

A man who fell asleep at the wheel has been sent to prison for 20 months for causing death by dangerous driving.

Eric John Williams, aged 77, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was sentenced at York Crown Court today following a guilty plea.

He was also banned from driving for three years and 10 months and ordered to do an extended driving test.

The incident occurred at 2.59pm on 31 July 2017 as Williams was driving a black Kia Sportage on the A64 near Scagglethorpe, Ryedale, in the direction of Scarborough where he was staying in a caravan with his wife and grandchildren.

His vehicle failed to negotiate a left-hand bend and veered into the opposite carriageway. It first collided with a silver Hyundai i20 and then head-on into a red Citroen Berlingo that were heading towards Malton.

The driver of the Berlingo, Jackie Lamb, aged 70, from Settrington, near Malton, was pronounced dead at the scene.

When passing sentence, the Judge described Jackie as ‘vibrant, vital, valued and loved, not just by her family but also by the community”.

Williams suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.

The driver and passenger in the Hyundai, a 78-year-old woman and a 79-year-old man, also from Settrington, suffered whiplash and chest injuries. They were taken by ambulance to Scarborough Hospital for treatment. The man has since passed away.

The extensive police investigation into the incident concluded that Williams had fallen asleep while driving due to tiredness.

He had driven from his home to Scarborough with a caravan in tow on 28 July, but had gone back to Dewsbury by himself on 30 July before travelling back to Scarborough on 31 July. Williams said he had not slept well prior to driving.

Detailed medical tests had to be carried out as Williams was taking various prescribed medications at the time of the collision. The results did not prove they were a factor in the incident.

Sergeant Zoe Billings, who led the investigation, said: “This was an unnecessary loss of life caused by the selfish act of Mr Williams driving when he was not in a condition to drive.

“Driving is a privilege, not a right. We can all recite the mantra ‘Don’t drive tired’, but here is a tragic demonstration of the devastation caused when these messages are ignored.

“If you feel tired, whether though lack of sleep or due to medication, the message is clear: Do not drive.

“To do so is to be reckless with your life and those of others. Whatever your age, you have a responsibility to all other road users, to only drive when you are fit to do so.”

Commenting on the heartache suffered by Mrs Lamb’s family, Sgt Billings said: “I thank Jackie’s family for their patience and understanding throughout the investigation.

“Her husband, Norman, and their children Nick and Vicki and their families, have shown enormous strength coping with such an untimely and devastating loss of a much-loved family member.

“No sentence will ever restore Jackie’s life. I only hope her family can find a small measure of comfort knowing that justice has been served.”

Jackie’s family released the following statement after the collision: “Jackie was a much-loved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, great aunt and friend to many.

“She was a well-known and much-loved figure in Settrington and beyond. She was a founding member of the tennis club and she will be sorely missed for her many unsung acts of social charity.”