Seamer crash - Man escapes jail after killing woman when he fell asleep while driving

A man caused the death of a Scarborough pensioner in a head-on crash after falling asleep at the wheel, a court heard.

By Court reporter
Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 7:42 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 7:48 am
The crash happened in Seamer last June.
The crash happened in Seamer last June.

David Broughton, 65, failed to negotiate a slight left-hand bend in Seamer and instead his vehicle careered onto the wrong side of the road into the path of a Kia driven by 63-year-old former mental-health worker Susan Meakin.

The two cars collided head-on and the Kia flipped over. Mrs Meakin - who lived near the crash site - suffered fatal injuries.

York Crown Court heard that Broughton, formerly of Seamer, had almost certainly fallen asleep at the wheel after taking part in an overnight boat race the night before the crash.

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Broughton, now of Grovehill Road, Beverley, appeared for sentence on Monday after admitting causing death by careless driving.

Despite Broughton admitting he had dozed off while driving from Whitby to Beverley, he was spared an immediate jail term after the court heard he had lived a hitherto-blameless life and had a clean driving record.

Prosecutor Michael Smith said Broughton would have had little time to rest or get much sleep - if any at all - in the run-up to the tragic accident at about 3pm on June 24, 2017.

“The defendant, in the days before the collision, had been sailing his boat,” added Mr Smith.

“He entered a night-time sailing competition that took his boat from Hartlepool to Whitby the night before this incident occurred. There would have been limited opportunities for him to sleep.

“In the morning (after the sailing expedition), having got off his boat (in Whitby Marina), he went to a friend’s house and fell asleep (while) watching a rugby match.”

Broughton was driving back to Beverley when the crash occurred on the Scarborough bypass on a stretch of road in Seamer known for its twists and turns.

The court heard Broughton wasn’t speeding and there was nothing erratic in his driving in the run-up to the collision, when his vehicle went straight across the road instead of around the bend.

Broughton also suffered injuries and was taken to hospital but was later discharged and quizzed by police.

“He said at the time he didn’t realise he had gone into Mrs Meakin’s lane and thought he had fallen asleep,” added Mr Smith.

A heart-rending statement from Mrs Meakin’s sister, Janice Morris, told how how her sibling’s tragic death had “shattered and devastated” family and her many friends.

Mrs Meakin’s cancer-stricken husband John died four months after the accident. His wife had been his sole carer after he suffered a stroke.

Mrs Morris said her brother-in-law endured “abject misery” in the final months of his life after losing his wife. She spoke of her sister’s “extraordinary character” and how she “kept friends for life”.

Mrs Meakin had worked in education and mental-health services before taking early retirement in 2016.

Mrs Morris said her sister had been “robbed” of a well-earned retirement, adding: “It was a cruel blow to her husband John - one he didn’t recover from.”

She said her sister had only popped out to the shops when the terrible accident occurred.

Defence barrister Richard Thompson said Broughton was deeply remorseful, adding: “What occurred was almost certainly as a result of tiredness.”

Broughton had an otherwise “exemplary” driving record, including in his former professional life.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said he had noted the “devastating” impact Mrs Meakin’s death had had on her late husband “who was reliant at the time on (his wife’s) care and her love to end his final days”.

He told Broughton he had “plainly not had enough sleep” before the accident”, adding: “Your assessment (in whether you were fit to drive) failed and that’s why you killed someone.”

Broughton was given a 12-month jail sentence, but this was suspended for two years because of his good character and remorse. He was also given a two-year driving ban and ordered to carry out 240 hours’ unpaid community work.