HGV driver jailed after death of 'intelligent and patient' 22-year-old man in Guildford

An HGV driver who thought a man he hit with his truck was a “roll of carpet” has been sentenced to nine months in prison. Mark O’Donnell, 22, died from serious head injuries after he was hit by a vehicle being driven by Sean Denham[1] on August 20, 2016. During a trial at Guildford Crown Court[2] , the jury heard that Mr O’Donnell was lying in the middle of Portsmouth Road, Artington, at around 3am after a night out in Guildford[3] .

Mr Denham, who drives for a vehicle recovery firm, had been dropping off a car and a passenger at a house nearby just before the collision. The 49-year-old HGV driver from West Sussex later told police he had seen an object lying in the road and drove over it as he had no time to move out the way.

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He told the court that he assumed the object was a piece of rubbish or a roll of carpet that had fallen off the back of a lorry. After being found guilty of causing death by careless driving on March 14, Mr Denham was sentenced to nine months in prison on Tuesday (April 17).

At the sentencing the victim’s father Owen O’Donnell paid tribute to his son, saying Mark was an inspiration to his family.

The collision took place on Portsmouth Road near the junction with Turnham Close, in Artington

“He took his big brother role very seriously. The closeness of our family was very important to Mark,” he said “He was never any trouble.

He was intelligent, patient, always forgiving with a personality that endeared him to everyone he met. “We loved him and we will never stop loving him with all our hearts.” Paul Rodgers, for the defence, said: “This case is a tragedy.

Mr Denham has to live with the consequences of that decision, that assessment.”

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He added: “This is an unusual situation. He would not expect to find a pedestrian in the middle of the road.” Before sentencing Mr Denham, Judge Robert Fraser said: “We all know in this courtroom what a tragic case this is.

“The fact is you (Mr Denham) failed to identify his body was in the road when you should have done. “The failure to stop appears to fit in with a remarkably unquestioning manner of driving that night. Man accused of causing death by careless driving in tragic Guildford crash weeps in court[4]

“The reality is your careless driving that night resulted in the family being deprived of an irreplaceable son. “Your actions have robbed a man of his life and a family of a son and brother. Your failure to recognise his body lying in the road caused a devastating loss.”

Mr Denham was also disqualified from driving for two years.

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  1. ^ hit by a vehicle being driven by Sean Denham (www.getsurrey.co.uk)
  2. ^ Guildford Crown Court (www.getsurrey.co.uk)
  3. ^ Guildford (www.getsurrey.co.uk)
  4. ^ Man accused of causing death by careless driving in tragic Guildford crash weeps in court (www.getsurrey.co.uk)
  5. ^ App Store (go.redirectingat.com)
  6. ^ Google Play for Android (play.google.com)

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