Driver jailed for fatal Pelsall crash made 'terrible mistake'
A supermarket driver has been jailed for causing the death of a motorbike rider seconds after he checked his delivery list - whilst travelling at just 10mph.
Former soldier Myles Byrne, described as 'a thoroughly decent man who made a terrible mistake', had been making night-time deliveries for Morrisons in the Pelsall area when he collided with father-of-three Lee Marlow.
Dash-cam footage showed him switching on the van's interior light and placing his delivery note on the steering wheel to check his next destination.
Crown prosecutor Mr Andrew Copeland argued that although he returned the clipboard to the passenger seat and switched off the light before turning right at the junction of Hall Lane and Vicarage Road, he was distracted and did not have his mind on the road.
Mr Marlow, 34, who had been returning home to Broad Lane, Pelsall, after visiting his brother and sister-in-law, braked but could not avoid hitting the van, suffering fatal injuries.
Mr Copeland said footage of the accident, which took place at about 10.10pm on September 17 last year, showed that the road was clear, with no parking restrictions, so Byrne could easily have pulled up and checked his list before continuing his journey.
As he made the turn, he was travelling at just 10mph, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
Mr Simon Phillips, defending, said Byrne, 49, could not remember the seconds before the accident. He had not seen Mr Marlow approaching, possibly because his eyes had not re-adjusted after he switched off the light or because his mind was elsewhere.
He added: "He has always acknowledged he caused Lee Marlow's death. It shouldn't have happened but this was not a case of him having the clipboard in his hand and the light on as he turned into the junction."
The court heard that the father-of-one had reached the rank of sergeant with the 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery during a 14-year career, serving in Bosnia and Northern Ireland, and receiving the United Nations Medal and Queen's Medal.
Whilst in the army, he gained his Class 1 HGV licence and drove heavy goods trucks as part of his military role. For two years before he left, he was so highly regarded that he worked with schools as the public face of the army, said Mr Phillips.
He is being treated for respiratory problems, including a collapsed trachea, which affect his sleep and, since the collision, has suffered from depression. He has put on four stone in a year, partly due to steroid treatment.
"He is a thoroughly decent man who made a terrible mistake," said Mr Copeland.
Byrne, of Medway, Tamworth, who pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, was jailed for three and a half years and banned from driving for three years.
Sentencing him, Judge Simon Ward told him: "The slogan is 'Think Bike' - you didn't. However there is a lot of mitigation in your case. I can see you are not the man you were."