Death crash driver who fell asleep at the wheel jailed

Ernest Robinson, 80, was killed in a car crash near the White Bull at Alston
Ernest Robinson, 80, was killed in a car crash near the White Bull at Alston
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A van driver killed an elderly motorist when he ploughed into his car after falling asleep at the wheel.

Defendant Jack Byrne, 26, who previously admitted complaining of tiredness, was driving a white Ford van when he crashed into Ernest Robinson’s car on Preston Road, near to the White Bull Pub, Longridge, on July 5, last year.

At the time of the accident, Burnley Crown Court heard Byrne was in possession of cannabis and cocaine to the street value of £18,000.

Mr Robinson, affectionately known as Ernie, from Longridge, had recently celebrated his 80th birthday. He was on his way back from visiting his wife, who suffers from dementia, when the van struck his Renault Kangoo. He suffered serious head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Byrne, of Ribchester Road, Ribchester, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and possession with intent to supply Class A and a Class B drug.

Mr Joseph Allman, prosecuting, said: “For reasons unclear, Byrne failed to negotiate a left-hand bend and went straight ahead to the opposing carriageway. Witnesses saw the van cross the central line and they expected him to swerve suddenly, but he did not.”

The court heard the defendant was not speeding and despite having a “significant quantity” of drugs in his car, no drugs were found in his blood.

Mr Allman said after the accident, Byrne climbed out of his vehicle and removed two silver boxes from the back of his van and ran up the drive of a cottage near to the accident scene.

Further investigations found they contained cannabis and cocaine.

The court heard when being examined by the paramedic, he asked if the victim was “all right” and at one stage he had his head in his hands saying: “What have I done.”

Ken Hind, defending, told the court his client was ashamed and remorseful.

Byrne was sentenced to five years in prison - two-and a half years for causing death by dangerous driving and two and a half for drugs offences.

Judge Jonathan Gibson said: “No sentence that I could pass in this case could make up or compensate for Ernie’s family loss.”