Judge sets free Dutchman who killed grandmother while driving wrong way on Ilkley Moor

Michael Vanderburgt. Below: Jackie Emmott.
Michael Vanderburgt. Below: Jackie Emmott.
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A DUTCHMAN has walked free from court despite killing a grandmother in a head-on smash near Ilkley Moor while driving on the wrong side of the road.

Michel Vandenburgt, 38, had reverted to his “normal” side of the road when he ploughed into 67-year-old Jaqueline Emmott’s car.

Victim Jackie Emmott

Victim Jackie Emmott

Mrs Emmott died at the scene from head and abdominal injuries and her husband Tony, who was driving the car on September 16 last year, is still receiving treatment for his injuries.

Bradford Crown Court heard that Vanderburgt had been driving his Opal Astra in heavy rain on the wrong side of the road for around 60 seconds after leaving the Cow and Calf restaurant on Ilkley Moor.

Judge Robert Bartfield told him that his driving at the well-known beauty spot fell “not far short” of dangerous driving - but the judge suspended his six-month prison sentence for 12 months, telling him he did not think a few weeks in jail would do “any good”.

He was also given a 12-month driving ban, which won’t even apply in the Netherlands.

The court was told that Vanderburgt and his wife Sally had been visiting her family in the UK, as they did regularly.

They had travelled from Hull to Ilkley to visit her half-sister, and spent the afternoon at the Cow and Calf Hotel.

The court heard that Vanderburgt “did not see” markings on the 50mph road, which would have appeared upside down to someone travelling the wrong way.

He drove in the rain for around half-a-mile down what the judge called a “narrow, lonely piece of road with little traffic on it at that time”.

Judge Bartfield told Vanderburgt: “They (Mr and Mrs Emmott) had just been out for lunch and no doubt had a happy day.

“The reality of this was that this was a much loved wife, mother and grandmother, retired for only one month. Her family are completely devastated by the loss of this remarkable lady.”

Yunus Valli, for Vanderburgt, told the court that his client is a “decent, hard-working, family man”, who was “mortified” by the accident.

Vanderburgt, who pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at an earlier hearing at Ilkley and Bingley Magistrates Court, was also ordered to pay £500 towards costs.

Road Safety Charity Brake hit out at the lenient sentence following the case.

Senior campaigns officer Ellen Booth said: “We have to send out the right message to other drivers that if you kill or seriously injure someone through bad driving you can expect really serious consequences, so that members of the public do take their responsibilities as a driver very seriously.”