Lorry driver sentenced following death of ‘thoughtful and kind’ pensioner

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A lorry driver who drove through a red light causing a collision in which a woman died has been sentenced, police have said.

Paul Russell, 66, of Staley Avenue, Ashby-De-La-Zouch, Leicestershire, was driving along Eastbourne Road when he hit a Corsa being driven by 82-year-old Jill Turk in August, 2016.

Police said he was legally using his Bluetooth hands free mobile phone at the time of the crash. The lorry went through a red light and hit the driver’s side of the Corsa as it turned onto the A22 from Ray Lane.

The Lingfield resident died following the crash.

In a Victim Impact Statement read out in court the family said: “Learning that my mum had been killed in such horrific circumstances, was beyond the most dreadful circumstances that I have ever encountered.

“Since then, coming to terms with mum’s death and trying to comprehend that I will not see my lovely mum is totally devastating. I am struggling to deal with the loss everyday as do my husband and sons.

“My mum was a thoughtful, loving and generous person. At the time of her death she was on her way to visit her old school friends to deliver blankets that she had knitted for children in Africa.”

Russell pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

He was given a two-year suspended sentence after appearing at Guildford Crown Court on Friday (July 21), as well as a 5-year disqualification from driving with an extended retest being required.

When sentencing Russell, Judge Roger Chapple said: “By your actions you have cost the life of a wholly innocent person. She is known to have been a fit and active lady who was thoughtful and kind.”

On the issue that Russell failed to see the red traffic light the judge added: “The fact that you were on the phone must have had a great deal to do with that.”

Sergeant JP Davis from Surrey Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit said: “This is a tragic case which has resulted in the death of an 82-year-old woman and has been devastating for her family and friends.

“Witnesses who followed behind Russell on the day described his driving as immaculate. This will have a far reaching impact on Russell and his family as, although the court recognised he did not set out on his journey to cause the death of another person, which is sadly what happened.

“What it shows is that even if you are legally using your hands free and a professional driver, you can be prone to distraction which can have the most devastating consequences.”

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