Trucker jailed over talented scientist's death

A LORRY driver who caused the death of a talented scientist when he struck her on a cycle lane has been jailed for 24 weeks.

Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday Kate Louise Furneaux was hit by the eight wheeled tipper truck driven by Peter McCurry when he turned left on Stanningley Road at Bramley, Leeds, without seeing her on his inside.

She was dragged 30 metres and suffered traumatic injuries to her chest, stomach and pelvis. The 27-year-old was taken to hospital but died soon afterwards of her injuries.

The tragedy happened last July only two weeks after she graduated from Leeds University with a PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry.

Kathleen Robinson, prosecuting, told the court traffic was being merged into one lane because of roadworks and was almost at a standstill.

Ronald Jones, a motorist behind the tipper lorry, saw Dr Furneaux pass on his inside and then saw the lorry begin to turn left into Houghley Lane. Realising she would not have had time to clear it, he immediately sounded his horn to warn the lorry driver but it had no effect.

He continued to sound his horn and followed the lorry which did not stop as she was left in the road and other motorists rushed to her aid.

The road was a cul-de-sac and he positioned his vehicle so the lorry could not get back and then approached the driver about what had happened.

McCurry told him he had not heard anything and had not realised there had been an accident. A report later showed he had hearing problems.

When seen later by police officers he said he had been working for many years for Thomas Crompton and was returning from taking some waste from Kirkstall to York when he found himself in traffic.

He said he turned into the side road because he thought it was a short cut but it turned out to be cul-de-sac. He had glanced in his mirror but not seen anybody on the cycle lane.

Anthony Sugare, for McCurry, said he was deeply upset at what had happened and wanted to publicly express his sorrow to the victim's family. "If he could turn the clock back he would."

He said the driver was aware of the cycle lane and accepted he should have seen the cyclist but made an instantaneous decision to try and get out of the traffic and in the quick glimpse in his mirror did not see her.

"His sorrow and remorse is genuine," Mr Sugare said. His employers also expressed sympathy to the family, and he told the court a disqualification would mean the driver would lose that livelihood.

McCurry, 59, of Oakroyd Road, Bradford, admitted causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving. In addition to his prison term he was banned from driving for three years and ordered to take a retest.

Sentencing him Judge Rodney Grant said: "This is indeed a tragic case. As a result of your driving a young life was lost.

"She was a happy, well liked and brilliant young woman who had the whole of her life ahead of her."

At the time of her death the family of Dr Furneaux, who live in Cumbria, said she was due to start a promising career at a top science research institute in Germany in September.

She had spent a gap year in Tanzania before obtaining a first class MSc honours degree in chemistry at Sheffield University and going on to Leeds but always maintained her Cumbrian roots and was a passionate Carlisle United fan.

"In her short life Kate's energy and enthusiasm for life touched many people across the world," they said. "Beautiful and intelligent, Kate lived her life according to passionate ideals. Kate was our perfect daughter and we are very proud of her."