Death crash driver jailed for five years

Ernest Robinson. (s)
Ernest Robinson. (s)

A van driver killed an elderly motorist when he ploughed into his car after falling asleep at the wheel.

Jack Byrne (26), who previously admitted complaining of tiredness and low iron levels, was driving a Ford van when it crashed with Mr Ernest Robinson’s car on Preston Road, Alston, near to the White Bull, Longridge, on July 5th, 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 was a loyal and devoted husband, 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 despite first aid and CPR by members of the public and paramedics, he 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.

The court heard a few minutes before the fatal crash, Bryne had experienced a “near miss” with another vehicle.

Mr Joseph Allman (prosecuting) said: “The roads were dry, visibility was good and traffic was light. 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 had not been drinking, was not speeding and despite having a “significant quantity” of drugs in his car, no drugs were found in his blood.

Mr Allman explained that after the accident, Byrne climbed out of his vehicle via the passenger door, before immediately removing two silver-coloured boxes from the back of his van and ran up the drive of a cottage near to the accident scene. “A few minutes later he returned to the scene of the crash with no boxes and no shoes on. A witness noticed Byrne was ‘in a daze, shaken and very pale’. Further investigations found that the boxes contained cannabis and a pure form of cocaine - both with a street value of £18,000.”

The court heard when being examined by the paramedic, he asked if the victim was “alright” and at one stage he said: “What have I done.”

Mr Ken Hind (defending) told the court his client was ashamed and remorseful: “He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to give the victim’s family closure and there has been acceptance of responsibility. He apologises to the family. He is deeply ashamed.”

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 possession with intent to supply Class A and Class B drugs. In addition, he was disqualified from driving for three years and an extended retest for two-and-a-half years.

l Before his death, respected and much-loved Longridge businessman Mr Ernie Robinson had been an been active man, maintaining a keen interest in the family’s engineering business.

In a victim impact statement, his son, Stephen Robinson, spoke of the “great loss” of the family.

He said: “It has taken me eight months to summon the courage to write this statement. Ernie was a true gentleman, more than that, he was my dad. He was a fountain of knowledge - he was our rock.

“He was in good health and we never thought he will be taken away from us in this way. Unless you have been heartbroken, it is difficult to understand how this truly feels. As a family we are literally heartbroken and torn apart. In short, we feel robbed.”