A pensioner who took a drive to help his insomnia, before falling asleep at the wheel and killing another man, was today starting a jail sentence of four years and eight months.
Insomniac Michael Worrall had gone out for a drive in his Vauxhall Astra to help him relax having not slept for three previous nights.
But tragedy struck when he fell asleep at the wheel and smashed into the back of Geoffrey Harris’s car in Stallings Lane, Kingswinford.
At Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday, Judge Michael Dudley banned the 70-year-old from driving for 10 years and urged him to never take control of a car again.
Prosecutor Miss Joanne Parker told the court that collision experts estimated that the defendant would have been driving at about 43mph along the 30mph route when his car crashed.
She said that if Worrall had been awake and alert, he would have had 12 seconds to stop his car before impact.
The force of the smash, which took place at about 5am on February 27 last year, saw the 56-year-old victim, from Abberley Road, Lower Gornal, thrown from his car, the court heard.
Mr Harris had been on his way to work when his car was hit and Worrall’s vehicle travelled a further 110 metres after the crash.
Miss Parker said: “The defendant appears to have been oblivious before, during and after the impact.”
After his arrest Worrall told police he was not sure what had happened.
He told the officers he had not been sleeping well for some time and it had been as though he was in a film when he had been “racing really fast”.
Miss Parker said the pensioner, who told police he had been prescribed medication for his insomnia but had run out of sleeping tablets, “could and should” have seen Mr Harris – whose small car had a top speed of around 33mph.
Worrall, of Withern Way, Lower Gornal, admitted causing death by dangerous driving.
Defence barrister Mr Roy Paterson said Worrall, a former building worker, had expressed “deep and genuine remorse”.
He added: “He wishes the clock could be turned back but sadly, it can’t. This seems to be an extremely poor error of judgement.”
Jailing Worrall, Judge Dudley told him: “On three occasions during the course of that night you made the conscious decision to drive your car.
“I find that frankly incredible because the reality is that the purpose of you driving your car was to try and get you to sleep.”
By Crime Correspondent Shaun Jepson