“Indolent” Wirral trucker who killed young mum has sentence nearly doubled

A Wirral[1] trucker who was jailed after a protruding crane arm on his lorry killed a young mum at a pelican crossing had his jail term almost doubled. Natalie Thorpe was killed instantly when one of the the crane’s outrigger arms struck her as she waited to cross Dunham Road, in Altrincham, Cheshire. Ms Thorpe left a 12-year-old son and her death has had a “devastating impact” on him and her wider family.

The 30-year-old’s death came after “indolent” lorry driver, William Anthony Stewart, failed to stow away his crane’s stabilising arms. As Stewart shot by the pelican crossing where Ms Thorpe was standing, it “struck and demolished” a metal post. Instants later, the arm killed Ms Thorpe where she stood.

Stewart remained unaware of the collision until he crashed into another car further down the road.

Flowers left at the scene where Natalie Thorpe died in Altrincham town centre

Appeal Court judges today ruled Stewart was let off too lightly with a four and a half year sentence, upping the term to seven years. Lord Justice Davis said he was guilty of “indolent indifference” for the safety of others. Stewart hadn’t simply failed to realise that the outrigger arms were unsecured before setting off, added the judge.

“He actively knew before he set off on his journey. “He simply couldn’t be bothered to secure them to spare himself some time and personal inconvenience. “This was in total and flagrant disregard for the safety of others – he just didn’t care.”

Stewart, 25, of Cross Heys Avenue, Birkenhead[2] , was locked up at Preston Crown Court after he was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving in August. Lord Justice Davis, sitting with Mr Justice Jay and Mr Justice Lavender, said Ms Thorpe’s loss had torn apart her family.

Natalie Thorpe killed by lorry driver William Stewart in Altrincham

Her young son was now being cared for by his grandmother. “Her mother has emphasised the devastation and shock which the death of her daughter has caused,” he added.

“The effects on the boy will of course be profound.” Lawyers for the Solicitor General, Robert Buckley QC, argued Stewart’s original jail term was far too soft. And the three judges today agreed that it was “unduly lenient”.

Stewart was slammed by the trial judge for “cutting corners” in his hurry to get back to his workplace in the Wirral. As a lorry driver, handling potentially lethal machinery, he had a heavy responsibility to other road users. And Lord Justice Davis commented: “This was a shocking case of dangerous driving, a heavy goods vehicle is in effect a very dangerous weapon”.

The sentence of four and a half years was far too light, he concluded, and the “least justifiable sentence, after a trial, was seven years”.

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  1. ^ Wirral (www.liverpoolecho.co.uk)
  2. ^ Birkenhead (www.liverpoolecho.co.uk)

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