Dentist is spared jail over fatal road crash

Stuart Mather
Stuart Mather
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A SKIPTON dentist who mowed down and killed a pedestrian while texting on her phone wept yesterday as she escaped jail.

Divorced mother-of-one Kay Nolan, 45, wrote the text in a layby but then pulled out on to a busy A road and hit her victim seconds after pressing send, a “momentary” error with tragic consequences, Preston Crown Court heard.

Nolan hit the brake in her Honda Jazz and swerved but struck Stuart Mather, 60, who had been crossing the A6068 in Higham, near Burnley, Lancashire, while out walking his Scottish terrier dog, Hamish. Mr Mather was thrown into the air and landed in the carriageway where he was run over by a second car.

Nolan herself desperately gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before her victim was air-lifted to the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

Mr Mather was pronounced dead on arrival. The dog also died.

Described as “popular, well thought of” and an “asset to the community”, Nolan was on her way home to Thornton-in-Craven from her practice in Padiham, near Burnley, when the accident happened on June 6, last year.

She sobbed and wailed in anguish as she stood in the dock awaiting sentence after admitting causing death by careless driving at an earlier hearing.

Nolan, who had never even had a point on her driving licence before, now suffers from a post-traumatic stress disorder and is having counselling, her lawyer said.

But Mr Justice Singh said he could spare the defendant jail mainly on the basis that if she went into custody there was no-one to care for her elderly mother and her 12-year-old daughter. Passing sentence, he gave Nolan a 40-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months. He told the defendant: “This is truly a tragic and sad death. It can be said that this was a short distraction, albeit one you should not have engaged in because it was in itself an unlawful act.

“What I do regard as a critical factor in this case, and allows it to be regarded as one, that there is exceptional mitigation, is that you are the single mother of a 12-year-old daughter for whom you have sole carer responsibility.”

Nolan must also do 150 hours community service, go on a victim awareness course and keep a 7am to 7pm curfew, the judge ordered.

Earlier Bob Elias, prosecuting, told the court Mr Mather had been out with his dog walking close to his home when the accident happened.

He said Nolan had stopped in a layby on the busy bypass, replying to a text sent by an employee but after writing the words set off before pressing send. Seconds later Mr Mather was hit by Nolan’s car, travelling at 50mph and then by the second vehicle following.

Nolan, who the court heard founded and built up her own dental practice, deleted two text messages shortly after the crash and refused to answer questions about her use of her phone when later questioned by police.

Simeon Evans, defending, jobs at the practice would be in “real danger” of being lost and the practice closing if Nolan went to jail.

Outside court Alex Mather, the victim’s son, said: “I think, based on the information provided to the judge he ended up with what was an acceptable judgment – but I don’t think it is ever going to be enough. All too often in this day and age people are too interested in their mobile phones, but you can wait or pull over, just think about what you are doing.”