A motorist with eight air fresheners in his car which, it was claimed, could have blocked his view when he knocked down and killed a university worker, has avoided going to jail.
Twenty-seven-year-old Matthew Campbell was driving his black Mazda 2 car in Wolverhampton city centre when he struck Dr Nicholas Musgrove from Walsall.
The 62-year-old was taken to New Cross Hospital, but doctors were unable to save him.
Wolverhampton Crown Court previously heard that police officers found his car had tinted windows fitted that were beyond the legal limit.
As well as the air fresheners, a pair of glasses, a key ring and a soft toy were also found hanging from the rear view mirror. Campbell, however, denied they had affected his view.
The smash happened at 6am on December 20, 2012.
The forklift truck driver denied causing death by careless driving at Wolverhampton Crown Court but he was found guilty after a three-day trial.
Campbell, of Newhampton Road West, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton, was handed a six-month sentence, suspended for two years.
He was also banned from driving for two years, and made the subject of a 12-month supervision order.
Dr Musgrove was on his way to work when he was struck at the junction between Stafford Street and the ring road.
Judge Nicholas Webb said there was nothing he could say or do which would bring Dr Musgrove back, but had decided to spare Campbell an immediate custodial sentence after receiving a number of character witnesses, including those from his church.
He said he accepted the lapse in concentration which caused Dr Musgrove’s death was only for a couple of seconds.
He added that he had dealt with cases where the standard of driving was much worse, but that had not resulted in the same tragic consequences.
“It was a double tragedy, but much more so for Dr Musgrove and his widow that this death resulted from your act of carelessness,” he said. Judge Webb said Campbell had grown up in an area with a high offending rate, but had up until now been a law-abiding citizen despite living among other young men who had chosen a path of crime.
Mr Philip Morris, defending, said Campbell was a ‘quiet, unassuming young man’ who would have to live with the consequences of his actions for long after any sentence had been served.
The trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court had been told that Dr Musgrove had crossed the road while the traffic lights were on green, and Campbell failed to see him until it was too late.
Speaking after the case Martin Lindop, Sector Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This prosecution should be a warning to all drivers that they have a duty of care to other road users at all times.
“It would also appear that Mr Campbell may have restricted his view by having illegally tinted windows and items hanging from the rear view mirror, which may have contributed to this tragic collision.
“The defendant failed to see Dr Musgrove crossing the road.
“When he eventually spotted him, he tried to carry out an evasive manoeuvre, but it was too little too late and his car struck the victim.” At the time of the tragedy, Wolverhampton University vice-chancellor Professor Geoff Layer paid tribute to Dr Musgrove, who was a demonstrator in the school of applied sciences.
“Nick was well known and really well liked and passionate about what he did,” he said.
“I have been inundated with emails from people saying how much he will be missed.
“He was the type of person who was always happy to stop for a chat and give you his opinion on things.
“Our thoughts are with Nick’s family and friends at what is an extremely difficult time.”