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Truck driver avoids jail for fatal crash

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: September 12, 2012

Derby Crown Court

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A TIPPER truck driver who killed a motorcyclist in a road smash last year has narrowly avoided jail.

Gavin Robinson, 32, of Quixhill Lane, Prestwood, admitted causing the death of motorcyclist Jonathan Harper after the crash near a Derbyshire quarry on October 1 last year.

A judge at Derby Crown Court said causing the death of Mr Harper would be a “burden” Robinson would “carry for the rest of his life” as he passed sentence.

Robinson was given a ninemonth prison sentence suspended for 12 months, as well as 200 hours unpaid work and a twoyear driving ban. He must take an extended test if he wants to use vehicles again.

The court heard how his eightwheel truck went onto the offside of B5056 as it pulled into Grange Mill Quarry near Cromford on October 1 last year.

Honda rider Mr Harper, 50, from Winster near Matlock, was heading up the B5056 and came off his machine as he braked and tried to avoid the lorry. He died in hospital soon after.

Judge John Burgess said there was a “confluence of misfortune” that day and such cases were among the most difficult to sentence and a family was bereaved and Robinson was also affected by the tragedy.

He said: “Gavin Robinson is not a criminal in the usual sense of the word.

“As he set out on October 1, the defendant had not the slightest intention of causing anybody any harm. In fact, of course, he did cause dreadful harm.

“That is a burden he will carry for the rest of his life.” However the judge said that burden would not be as great as that felt by Mr Harper’s family.

He said: “Some expect the sentence passed to ease their pain.

There is no sentence I can pass which can ever ease such pain.” Avik Mukherjee, prosecuting, said Robinson was turning his truck into the quarry at its north gate when the smash happened.

He said: “As he turned into the north gate, part of the lorry was entirely on the opposite carriageway.” Mr Mukherjee said the lorry turned across double white lines in the middle of the road and as Mr Harper was approaching his machine lost traction as he braked.

“He was clearly unable to stop safely,” Mr Mukherjee added.

The court heard the speed limit for motorcycles was 50mph on that stretch of road. A police expert assessed Mr Harper’s speed at between 57 and 64mph.

Hugh Williams, defending, told the court: “He accepts his plea to careless driving. He accepts he created a potential hazard.” The court heard Robinson had stopped driving HGVs since the incident and was deeply remorseful.

In a statement, he said: “I regret it so much and would give anything to change what has happened.”

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