Death crash case delay ‘disgrace’

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A Judge has slammed lawyers for delaying the sentencing of a speeding driver who killed Nether Langwith man Luke Winter in a high-speed smash last year.

Joseph Weston (21), of Longdale Lane, Ravenshead, was due to be sentenced on Tuesday 9th July at Nottingham Crown Court, after admitting causing death by dangerous driving at a hearing in May.

But Judge Michael Stokes QC said he had been forced to remove the case from the court list late on Monday after spotting bureaucratic errors by prosecution and defence lawyers.

Documentation produced by police investigators estimating Weston’s speed at the time of the crash was not handed over to defence lawyers by the Crown Prosecution Service until 2nd July - 10 days after the required deadline and more than three months after they were carried out by officers, the court was told.

Judge Stokes also criticised defence moves to persuade the court to accept that Weston had been travelling at a lower speed than is believed to be the case, in a bid to secure him a more lenient sentence, and told both sides that they had failed to act in the best interests of Mr Winter’s family.

He said: “No consideration has been given to the family of the deceased at all. The Director of Public Prosecutions has stated that the victims of crime should be put at the centre of the criminal justice system and this is a tragic incident that happened 11 months ago now.

“The law is supposed to support the interests of the victims and their families. If I was the father of Mr Winter I would be absolutely furious at the way in which this case has been handled. Don’t you dare say to me that you have put the victims at the centre of this case. The way this has been handled is a disgrace.

“I hold both parties equally responsible in this case. It’s all been about sticking to your own practices and not about the impact this is having on other people.”

Weston had already been told to expect a prison term when he appeared at Nottingham Crown Court on 28th May, after he had failed to negotiate a bend on a notorious stretch of the A60 at Cuckney Hill in 2012, killing Mr Winter.

He crossed over the road and collided with Mr Winter’s Citroen C2, which was coming from the opposite direction.

Weston said he had no recollection of the collision but he admitted causing death by dangerous driving.

The court was told yesterday that Weston had suffered a broken leg in the crash, caused by bracing his leg against the brake and clutch in a frantic bid to stop, at the time of the crash.

Following Mr Winter’s death, both police and independent investigators, for Weston, carried out tests to establish the exact speed he had been travelling at the time of the collision.

Police investigations revealed that his car was likely to have been travelling at between 90 and 101mph, which Weston’s investigators claimed he could have been travelling at around 79mph, the court was told.

But Judge Stokes said he would refuse Weston the right of pleading guilty to causing Mr Winter’s death travelling at the lower speed, and told him that he would hold a special hearing to determine his exact speed if he was not prepared to accept he had been travelling at at least 89mph.

Speaking about Weston, Judge Stokes added: “My view is that he was doing at least 90 or 100mph, so his speeding was grossely excessive and I take the view that this is a category one offence. He was showing off the speed at which he could drive his motor vehicle to the person sat in the passenger seat. That was the whole purpose of his journey.”

Following Mr Winter’s death, Chad launched a campaign to persuade bosses at Nottinghamshire County Council to install speed cameras along the A60 at Cuckney Hill, which was agreed last November.

A total of six people have been killed along the stretch since 2006.

Judge Stokes has instructed both defence and prosecution that experts need to meet prior to 25th July to establish a realistic speed that Weston was travelling at.

If Weston fails to accept that he was travelling at at least 89mph then a Newton Hearing will take place on 29th July. He will then be sentenced on 2nd September.

Weston will be sentenced on 29th July if he accepts that he was travelling at a higher speed, the court was told.