HGV driver sentenced to 14 months for killing mum and daughter on crossing

The family of a mum and her six-year-old daughter, who were killed on a pedestrian crossing when a lorrydriver failed to see the lights turn red, have been left reeling after he was sentenced to 14 months in jail.

Nevillle Fletcher

Mum-of-six Zena Jackson, 43, and Cidalia Mendez-Jackson died after being struck by the HGV driven by Neville Fletcher, 55, while they were crossing Spring Bank on April 29.

Ms Jackson, it appeared, had waited for the lights to go through a whole sequence to teach her daughter about crossing the road. At the last moment she had tried to push her daughter out of the way of the lorry.

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The court was shown distressing images from CCTV and a dashboard camera that showed Fletcher, 55, slowing to slightly less than 3km an hour as he approached the crossing, then virtually stopping, before carrying on.

He then turned into Stanley Street, where he stopped, having “felt something”, and thought he had hit a cyclist.

Patrick Palmer, prosecuting, said: “At that point the lights had changed against the defendant from green to amber to red and at that point it was safe, as Ms Jackson thought, for her to step out with her daughter into the path of the HGV.

“She was some way across when the collision occurred with the offside.”

He said a witness saw the lorry start to move “and saw Ms Jackson endeavour to push her daughter further away from the lorry, but alas to no avail.”

He added: “The prosecution case is that the pedestrians were there clearly to be seen; this was a pedestrian crossing and the lights were against the defendant.”

Fletcher pleaded guilty to two counts of careless driving at an earlier hearing.

Malcolm Galloway, defending, said he had been instructed by Fletcher to apologise to the family at the beginning of his speech: “If he could possibly turn back the clock he would do so,” he added.

Fletcher had been a professional driver of 35 years and never had an accident before.

Police concluded that he had “a very high cognitive load” when making the sharp turn left into Stanley Street.

“He’s got fixated on the car to the right and the vehicle to the front and missed the traffic lights turning from green to red,” Mr Galloway said.

Sentencing Judge Richardson said the lives of the families had been “irreparably shattered” and that Ms Jackson and her daughter were “immensely loved.” He said in particular he thought of Ms Jackson’s five-year-old son who was motherless.

It was, he said, “an appalling mistake with catastrophic consequences.”

He said: “This is not an easy junction to negotiate, you had many competing factors to consider, but you missed the red light and it was a terrible mistake, a criminally culpable mistake.”

He said the sentence was not designed to reflect the value of the lives of Ms Jackson and her daughter.

“Nothing the court can do can reflect the value of the lives as individuals and the colossal sense of loss felt by the families.”

Relatives of Ms Jackson did not comment after the hearing but Sgt Rob Mazingham, of Humberside Police, said: “They are not happy with the sentence. The family simply do not feel the sentence reflects the loss of life, or adequately reflects that loss of life.

“The Judge is in a very difficult situation and went to great lengths to say the sentence cannot adequately reflect that loss of life.

“Clearly our thoughts are with the family. Everybody involved has been affected because of the horrific nature of the scene.”

He sentenced Fletcher to 14 months for both counts to run concurrently and disqualified him for driving for 5 years and seven months.