Man sentenced for causing death of Prestatyn man by careless driving

A FORMER soldier has been spared jail after admitting to causing death by careless driving in Flintshire earlier this year. Christopher Damian Norris appeared at Mold Crown Court to receive his sentence for an incident which took place on the A548 Tan Lan, near Holywell, last summer and claimed the life of Shaun Buckley from Prestatyn. Prosecuting, Sarah Badrawy, told the court that Norris – of Moorfield Crescent in Lowton, Pudsey – was towing a caravan with his Nissan Qashqai along the A548 Coast Road on July 6 when he caused the dad-of-two’s death.

The 30-year-old, who previously served in the armed forces, had bought the caravan two months prior to the incident and was in the North Wales area with his family from Greater Manchester for a holiday. Reports heard in court stated that he experienced no issues with the caravan towing on the way to North Wales. It was on his return home that the five-berth caravan being towed by Norris swung out into the opposite lane of the Coast Road after it had started to drag along the ground and become detached from the towing vehicle.

Mr Buckley’s Ford truck then crashed into it before colliding with another vehicle. Ms Badrawy told the judge how it ‘would have been impossible’ for Shaun to avoid a collision. The court heard that emergency services were called but the 41-year-old died later that day after being taken to Aintree Hospital in Liverpool, Merseyside by air ambulance.

Ms Badrawy also read out statements on behalf of the family affected by the tragedy, including Shaun’s eldest daughter. The statement explained how the crash had deeply impacted the 17-year-old as she was learning to drive at the time of the accident and took some time to regain confidence to get behind the wheel again. She added that the crash has since impacted on her ability to learn when returning to college and therefore had an effect on her grades.

She fondly talked about how she would spend time with her father quite regularly, through shopping, eating out and attending concerts. A statement from Shaun’s father added that Norris in effect already had his sentence as he would have to live with himself for the rest of his life with what has happened and how it has affected his family who were also in the vehicle with him. He also acknowledged that Norris did not go out that day with the intention to harm anyone but is ‘angry’ that it had happened.

The defence, Andrew Nuttall, argued that Norris drove for about three miles and believed he had made the relevant checks to ensure his caravan was secured safely, even getting his wife to double check, but accepted that he is responsible for the accident that cost Mr Buckley his life. He added that Norris did remain at the scene of the accident and Norris was supported in court by glowing references by the army, referencing how he served for his country on three deployments in Afghanistan and other locations. He left the army in order to start a family and has since been involved with the Help for Heroes charity and is a scout leader.

Passing sentence, Judge Niclas Parry told Norris that the ‘utterly tragic loss of life’ is arguably punishment enough as he would have to live with the knowledge he was responsible for this death. Judge Parry ordered that Norris should be subject to a 12-month community order, complete 200 hours of unpaid work and disqualified from driving for 12 months. He said: “Only the nose weight of the caravan bearing down on the tow-ball prevented the caravan from becoming detached.

As a result, the inevitable occurred and the caravan did detach and the dreadful collision had fatal consequences. “There is a responsibility for those who take to the road towing large trailers of any kind to take every care, to be properly versed in how to attach those to their vehicles safely.” Speaking after the sentencing, Sergeant Leigh Evans of the Roads Policing Unit said: “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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