Driver in fatal crash sentenced

THE FIANCEE of a 31-year-old man killed in a car crash has told a court of her grief and paid tribute to her ‘gentle’ partner as his killer was sentenced to a driving ban and community service.

Alvin Atkins, 37, of Kent Road, St Leonards, appeared at Eastbourne Magistrates Court on Friday morning (September 2) after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving at an earlier hearing.

Prosecutor David O’Driscoll told the court Daniel Martin from Horam, who was driving a kit car, suffered catastrophic injuries when he was hit by Atkins’ Transit van. Atkins had veered on to the wrong side of the road at Boreham Street, near Herstmonceux, on December 17.

The court heard Atkins, who had a clean driving licence, was working for East Sussex County Council’s highways team at the time of the crash and was unable to explain why the accident had occurred.

The family of Mr Martin were in court for the sentencing and victim impact statements, written by his father and fiancee, were read to the court.

His fiancee described herself and Mr Martin as ‘inseparable’ and said she had chosen a venue for their wedding but instead found herself planning his funeral.

She told the court their relationship was ‘stronger than ever’ when Mr Martin was tragically killed.

She said, “He was a gentle person and I was always proud he chose me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.

“He was everything I dreamed of and I can’t explain how much I love him and how much he meant to me.”

She said she fell in love with him more each time she looked at him and his death had had a profound effect on her because she was unable to distract herself from the daily pain.

“Sometimes I wish I had never met him at all because then I wouldn’t feel such pain,” said his fiancee.

“I will never marry or be in a relationship with anyone else. I would have given my life over and over if it would have saved his.”

She said she feels like she is being ‘stabbed’ when she wakes up each morning and added, “I’m not living, I’m merely surviving. Living without Dan is no life at all.”

Magistrates were told Atkins had no radio in the car to distract him, was not using his phone and was not tired.

Daniel O’Malley, defending Atkins, handed 18 character references to magistrates and told the court Atkins had an ‘unblemished’ record.

Mr O’Malley said, “He is an honourable, decent and caring man who is hurt and broken by the terrible trauma which he alone has created.”

Magistrates were told Atkins had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and moved his employment to a different depot because he did not want to risk seeing Mr Martin’s family as he felt it may exacerbate their grief.

Mr O’Mallet described Atkins’ actions on the day as a ‘momentary lapse’ and said, “He wishes, like everyone here today, that he could turn back the clock.”

Magistrate Brian Hartsha said, “We understand the horrific effect this sad loss has had on both families and on Mr Atkins himself.”

They sentenced Atkins to a community order with 300 hours’ unpaid work and a 12-month driving ban.

Atkins must take an extended driving test before he is allowed to get back behind the wheel. He was also ordered to pay £85 in court costs.