Police have warned of the dangers of driving unroadworthy vehicles after a woman who drove despite being unable to see clearly out of her windscreen was convicted of killing her disabled cousin in a collision.
Hayley Sterna, 51, was driving a Peugeot van south along the B1052, Brinkley Road, at Westley Waterlees, on January 4, when she hit Chris Clements who was riding in a wheelchair close to the road.
Mr Clements, 40, of Beech Croft, Brinkley, was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge but died the following morning.
Following a police investigation, Sterna, of Braefield, Somersham, admitted causing death by careless driving because she had driven with a dirty windscreen, causing her to be dazzled by sunlight.
However, she was yesterday (Wednesday) found not guilty of the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving after a jury at Cambridge Crown Court concluded her driving had not fallen “far below” the standard expected.
She was subsequently sentenced for causing death by careless driving at the same court to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, disqualification from driving for two years with an extended retest and 200 hours’ community service.
Sergeant Simon Goldsmith, who investigated, said: “This case shows the potentially devastating consequences of driving a vehicle that is not fit for the road.
“It would not have taken long to clean the windscreen and replenish her washer fluid but Sterna made the tragic decision not to.
“Driving is something many of us do every day and it can be easy to forget we are in charge of a potentially lethal weapon. It’s crucial everyone regularly checks their vehicle is roadworthy, particularly during autumn and winter months when road conditions are likely to be worse.”
During the trial, the court heard Mr Clements was walking his dog when the collision took place at about 2.25pm.
Forensic collision investigations showed Sterna had not cleared her windscreen during her journey, having run out of screen wash.
She also failed to clean the screen or add screen wash despite having a two-and-a-half hour break and, after the collision, she said she had been dazzled by sunlight through the windscreen.