Lorry driver convicted of causing fatal Corsham collision spared jail term

This Is Wiltshire: Tommy Ford served in the Royal Navy and Fleet Auxiliary. In later years he was a notable bowler Tommy Ford served in the Royal Navy and Fleet Auxiliary. In later years he was a notable bowler

A lorry driver who killed 89-year-old war veteran Tommy Ford after crashing into him as he crossed the road has been spared a jail term.

Andrew Greenhalgh, 43, of Dicketts Road, Corsham, did not see the spritely pensioner, who was on the way home from visiting a friend's widow in Corsham, until it was too late.

Although the former soldier denied causing the death of Mr Ford by careless driving he was convicted following a trial at Swindon Crown Court.

Ruling the driving was careless, Judge Tim Mousley QC imposed a community order and banned him from the road for 18 months.

James Newton-Price, for the Crown, read victim impact statements from Mr Ford's daughter Lynn and her husband Rod. In them they spoke of their terrible loss and the time it has taken for the matter to be resolved.

During the 18 months since his death his widow, Bridget, to whom he had been married nearly 60 years and cared for singlehandedly as she suffered dementia, has also passed away.

Mr Ford served in first the Royal Navy and the Fleet Auxiliary, serving in the Atlantic and Pacific in the Second World War and then the Falklands conflict.

In later years he represented his county at bowls and was a stalwart of his local club, preparing the surface for the new season and teaching the blind to bowl.

The court heard his funeral was packed and, in her statement, his daughter said: "I now realise what a great man my dad was."

Greenhalgh was behind the wheel of a large Seddon Atkinson lorry in Valley Road, Corsham, on Monday, November 26, 2012, when the accident happened.

As he approached the junction with Spackman Lane in the dark at about 5pm the vehicle struck Mr Ford, who was making his way home to nearby Cresswells.

Witnesses say the pedestrian, who wore hearing aids on both ears and used a walking stick, had not looked before crossing the road.

Moments before the impact the tachograph in the lorry showed it had been going at 38mph, over the speed limit for the road.

What the jury were not aware of was that one of the first things Greenhalgh did following the crash was delete two texts from his mobile phone.

Prosecutors wanted to present the evidence to the jury saying it showed that his mind may have been elsewhere at the time of the crash.

But the judge ruled it was inadmissible as it was clear the texts had been sent and received significantly before the crash.

Greenhalgh, who did not give evidence in his defence at the trial, told police he had seen Mr Ford but, although he braked, could not avoid him.

Ian Dixey, defending, said his client, of Dicketts Road, Corsham, was devastated by what happened and would be further punished as he drives for a living.

Passing sentence, the judge said: "Nothing I say today and no sentence that I impose can begin to compensate for the enormous loss felt by the family and many friends of Tommy Ford.

"It must not go unnoticed, Mr Greenhalgh, that you fully appreciate the devastation that has followed from the way you drove on November 26, 2012, momentary though it was."

He imposed a community order with 300 hours of unpaid work and a three-month night time curfew.

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