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'I'm sorry, it was my fault': Son of two police officers, 21, is spared jail after killing a grandmother at the …

  • Tree surgeon Callum Wilkinson, 21, told witnesses he ‘nodded off’ before crash
  • He smashed into  another car and killed grandmother  Sandra Nightingale, 56
  • Denied death by dangerous driving, admitted causing death by careless driving
  • Judge passed a 16 week jail sentence suspended for 2 years, ordered him to complete 300 hours’ unpaid work and banned him from driving for 18 months

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Tree surgeon Callum Wilkinson, 21, told witnesses that he ‘nodded off’ moments before the fatal collision which killed pensioner Sandra Nightingale

The son of two police officers who killed a grandmother when his pickup truck crashed into her car today walked free from court.

Tree surgeon Callum Wilkinson was towing a wood chipper at Bromham near Bedford when his Mazda crossed the carriageway and stuck Sandra Nightingale’s blue Hyundai i10.

Both vehicles ended up in the hedge and Mrs Nightingale, 56, from Turvey, Bedfordshire, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mrs Nightingale had two children and one grandson. She worked for the RSPB and was an active member of All Saints’ church in Turvey. She sang in the choir, was a bell ringer and taught new bell ringers.

She was also involved in the village’s Amateur Dramatic Group. Her husband David, 64, said Turvey had lost a great contributor to village life.

A jury of four men and eight women at St Albans crown court found Callum Wilkinson, now 21, of Green End, Little Staughton, Bedfordshire, not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

He had pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.

The court heard Wilkinson, then 19, was driving along the A428 when the crash happened at around a quarter to six on the evening of Tuesday 22 September 2015.

Wilkinson smashed into another car and killed grandmother Sandra Nightingale, 56

A driver who stopped at the scene told the jury that Callum Wilkinson said to him: ‘She did not stand a chance – not with me coming at her.’

Richard Manning said: ‘It was obvious he was the person who had driven the 4 x4.’

Mr Manning said Callum Wilkinson had told him he had fallen asleep.

But in the witness box Callum Wilkinson, who aged just 19 at the time of crash, said he was not tired.

He told the jury he had gone to bed at 10.30 the previous night, waking up at six or half past. He carried out jobs in Daventry and Northampton, starting at 8am, finishing work in a yard at Bozeat, Northants at around half three or four o’clock in the afternoon.

After leaving the yard, he said: ‘I was feeling completely normal.’

His father Ewan worked for 27 years in the Beds police traffic department, but transferred his duties after the accident. His mother Julie has been with the force for more than 24 years.

Wilkinson said his parents’ profession had a ‘massive impact’ on him and he would not drive if tired. He was 15 minutes into the journey to his girlfriend’s grandfather’s farm when the crash happened.

He went on: ‘I wasn’t tired at all. I remember going up the crest of a hill and down the road as it levelled out. The next thing I remember is the sudden shock of the impact. I had no idea what that was.

‘It was like a shudder sent through my whole body and vehicle. My vision was dark. I couldn’t see anything. ‘

He said he kicked his way out of the passenger door of his 4×4 that had ended up in the hedge and went to Mrs Nightingale’s car. ‘I know something very serious had happened.

‘I knelt on the passenger side and asked her what her name was and asked if she was awake. I tried to check her pulse. I was trying to help her to wake up. ‘ He said another driver then came over.

Wilkinson said he could have told people who stopped at the scene that he may have fallen asleep because he was ‘trying to understand what happened.’

A jury at St Albans Crown Court decided that Wilkinson had not known he was tired when he got behind the wheel of his pick-up truck and decided he was guilty only of causing death by careless driving

While he was in an ambulance he said he was told by his mother, who he had called, that Mrs Nightingale had died.

Asked by defence barrister Warwick Alesson what his feelings for Mrs Nightingale’s family he said: ‘From the moment it happened I only want to apologise. I always wanted to say how sorry I was for what happened.’

Mr Nightingale told the judge, in a victim statement, that he and his his wife had a ‘close, loving relationship’, living in Turvey for 34 years, having two children Tim, 33, and Lucy, 30, and a grandson.

He said: ‘My future life and retirement is very much different to what I expected.’

Wilkinson sobbed in the dock as Mrs Nightingale’s daughter Lucy read her victim statement. She said: ‘Mr Wilkinson did kill my mother and I feel there should be an appropriate sentence. 

‘I don’t think it is fair someone who has taken a life can walk way, albeit without a driving licence.’

Defending, Mr Alesson said: ‘Callum Wilkinson has suffered deeply as a result of his actions. His actions have led to a death. He would do anything at all to take that back.’

Judge Jonathan Carroll passed a 16 week jail sentence suspended for 2 years, ordered him to complete 300 hours’ unpaid work and banned him from driving for 18 months.

He said he sentenced him on the basis that tiredness did not cause the crash.

He went on: ‘The accident was sudden and unexpected. I cannot say what distraction or reason for lapse of concentration was.’

The judge said he could only imagine the pain and suffering Mrs Nightingale’s family had suffered. ‘Whatever sentence I impose cannot and does not equate to the loss of her life,’ he said.   

References

  1. ^ e-mail (www.dailymail.co.uk)
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CCTV released after thieves drove dumper truck into Dunstable motorcycle shop

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A SHOP front was destroyed after thieves, who got away empty handed, used a JCB to break in last week, sparking a police CCTV appeal.

Images have been released by Bedfordshire Police showing the dumper truck ram raiding DBC Motorcycles, in Regent Street, Dunstable on Saturday, January 21.

The JCB, which was stolen from Luton, was used by three men to travel to travel to Dunstable, causing damage on the way, before they drove it into the shop at around 9pm.

The incident caused substantial damage to the front door and surrounding brickwork but the men were unable to enter the shop and left the scene on foot.

The shop is still open for business via the workshop but the front of the premises is boarded up after the ram-raid incident

Detective Constable Ben Stone, investigating the incident, said: “Someone must recognise the men from the images we want to speak to in connection with the incident.

“While I appreciate the images are not of the best quality, there are a couple of distinctive clothing items which someone might recognise, particularly a bag belonging to one of the individuals.

“The motorcycle shop is in a residential street, therefore there must be someone who saw or heard something which will help our investigation.

“I am confident that there will be someone out there who knows something and can help us trace these individuals.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact 101 quoting reference JD/2943/2017 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.


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