Caravan wasn't properly attached to car before it killed dad-of-two, court hears

A “dreadful” accident that killed a dad-of-two was “thoroughly avoidable”, a court heard today. Shaun Buckley was taken to hospital after a caravan which had not been attached properly to a car veered into his path and “exploded”. The 41-year-old later died in hospital after a piece of wood from the caravan hit him in the chest.

Christopher Damian Norris admitted causing death by careless driving following the incident on the A548 Tan Lan near Holywell on July 6 last year. At Mold Crown Court today, the 30-year-old, of Moorfield Cescent, Lowton, Pudsey was spared jail by Judge Niclas Parry, who heard that he was “stricken with guilt and remorse”.

Tributes to Shaun Buckley, from the Prestatyn area, who died following a crash outside M.G.S Mobile Garage Services in Tan Lan near Ffynongroyw, HolywellTributes to Shaun Buckley outside M.G.S Mobile Garage Services in Tan Lan

The former soldier was given a 12-month community order and 200 hours of unpaid work, and was disqualified from driving for 12 months. Following the sentencing, Mr Buckley’s father Simon said: “Our view remains firm that the accident that took Shaun’s life was as the result of a tragic set of circumstances and was in no way the result of any intent to cause the events that unfolded that day.”

Judge Parry said the “remarkable generosity of spirit” Mr Buckley’s father had shown towards the defendant was “deserving of all our admiration”. “He has found no anger towards you and that is an approach that will assist him in coming to terms with his loss,” the judge said.

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Prosecutor Sarah Badrawy said that, shortly after 10am on July 6, 2019, Norris was towing a caravan with his Nissan Qashqai back home from a family holiday in the area when it detached from his car. Mr Buckley, a mechanic from Prestatyn, was travelling in a flatbed recovery truck in the opposite direction at the time.

Emergency services were called and Mr Buckley was taken to Aintree Hospital by air ambulance, but he died around two hours later after sustaining major abdominal injuries, the court heard. Witness Ian Harker, who was driving behind Norris at the time, saw the caravan “drag along the ground” before it became detached from the vehicle.

Flowers have been left at the scene of the crash that killed Prestatyn dad Shaun BuckleyFlowers were left at the scene of the crash

Moments later, the caravan was seen veering into oncoming traffic and colliding with Mr Buckley’s truck. The court heard Mr Harker said it would have been “impossible” for Mr Buckley to have avoided the collision.

Judge Parry said that, rather than a “simple slip”, numerous steps were failed to ensure the caravan had been properly attached to the car. He said there was a “significant responsibility” held by those driving with a trailer in tow to take care to attach them safely.

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“You are responsible for this tragic and thoroughly unavoidable incident that caused the tragic loss of life,” the judge said. Ms Badrawy said that, following a collision examination, police discovered the caravan had been “resting on the car” instead of being correctly towed.

As a result, only the nose weight of the caravan prevented it from becoming detached earlier, the judge heard. “The crash could have been avoided had it properly attached to the vehicle,” said Ms Badrawy. Andrew Nutall, defending, said his client had sought to make sure his car was attached properly, but accepted he “failed in his duty of care” which left him “unquestionably devastated”.

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“He recognises what a terrible time the deceased’s family have been going through and is in despair at their loss,” Mr Nutall said.

“This is a man who has been changed by this incident and is wracked by guilt. “This defendant will bear this tragedy for the rest of his life.” Mr Buckley leaves behind his partner and two daughters, who were aged 19 weeks and 17 years old at the time.

Following today’s hearing, Mr Buckley’s family paid tribute to the dad-of-two who will “live on through them”.

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They said: “Shaun has left a wonderful legacy in his two daughters and he will live on through them. “He lived life to the full and we know that what he would want is for us all to make the most of every day. “We would like the opportunity once again to thank all those who were at the scene of the accident that day and made such a valiant effort to save Shaun.”

Sergeant Leigh Evans, of the North Wales Police Roads Policing Unit, added: “This tragic case resulted in the death of a young man with his life ahead of him.

“Although Norris did not intend for this collision to happen, it is a stark reminder of the importance of ensuring anything that is being towed, such as caravans, are secured safely.

“The thoughts of North Wales Police remain with Shaun’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

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