Driver who killed motorcyclist spared prison because of ‘genuine mistake’

Judge says that death was the consequence of a ‘genuine mistake’ and ‘simply an error of judgement’

Driver who killed motorcyclist spared prison because of ‘genuine mistake’

A DRIVER who killed a motorcyclist has been spared a prison sentence because the judge said he made a ‘genuine mistake’ because of an ‘error of judgement’.

Derek Benad-Smith, a 52-year-old father of three, was riding his BMW when he was fatally struck by Francisco Javier Ayala’s Vauxhall Insignia in Waltham Abbey in September last year.

Ayala’s car moved into the wrong carriageway of the road he was travelling on at around 10pm, and collided with Banad-Smith. Benad-Smith struck the windscreen of the car and was taken to hospital where he later died.

During the Ayala’s trial at Chelmsford Crown Court, Judge Patricia Lynch said that the road, Honey Lane, lacked proper signage and had ‘invisible’ road markings because they were so worn out.

Ayala, 43, pleaded not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving but pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, on the sixth day of his trial. He was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years and ordered to pay £2,800 in costs. He was also disqualified from driving for 12 months.

After passing sentence, Judge Lynch said:

‘You have accepted that you caused the death but the death was a consequence of a genuine mistake.

‘I have read the experts' reports from both sides which demonstrate that that genuine mistake was due to the unusual width of the carriageway of this particular piece of road, through the lack of proper signage and due to the absence of visible road markings.

‘The experts said the condition of the central lines and cats' eyes was so poor as to render them invisible to the driver in the prevailing conditions which were a wet road and the glare from the street lights.’

‘It was simply an error of judgement.’

In a victim impact statement, Mr Benad-Smith's partner of the last four years, Peggy Stephanou, said: ‘All our dreams and plans gone in an instant. How he died was horrific. He was a strong, active man who loved life to the full. To see him broken and knowing he was lucid.... will haunt me for the rest of my life.’