USAF Staff Sergeant gets driving ban for causing death by dangerous driving in Mildenhall

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A USAF Staff Sergeant caused a crash in which a man died on a Suffolk road, a court has heard.

Candice Griffin, 25, of Friesian Close, Beck Row, failed to see an approaching car when she pulled out from an exit at RAF Mildenhall onto West Row Road on the morning of October 15 last year.

Yesterday, Ipswich Crown Court was told that Griffin, who had arrived in the UK two months earlier, was in collision with a Peugeot car driven by Alison Newell.

That collision pushed the Peugeot into the path of a Mazda being driven by 75-year-old David Rolfe who was unable to avoid a head-on crash and suffered fatal chest and neck injuries.

Mr Rolfe is not believed to have been wearing a seatbelt and the airbag in his car failed to deploy, said prosecutor Michael Crimp.

In a statement read to the court, Ms Newell said she had seen Griffin’s vehicle emerging from the airbase in the moments leading up to the collision.

She said: “I was focusing on the bonnet because my sixth sense told me it was not going to stop.”

After braking hard and then being struck by Griffin’s car, she had then realised that a second impact was going to take place.

Ms Newell said: “I then saw a car coming towards me. It was slowing. I had no time other than to think that this is going to hurt. I heard lots of screeching and then it hit head on.”

Other witnesses said Mr Rolfe and Ms Newell had been driving normally and not at excessive speed, said Mr Crimp.

Police accident investigators concluded that Griffin had turned from the exit road at the wrong angle or had momentarily begun to turn to travel on the wrong side of the road.

Mr Crimp said Griffin, who pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving, did not possess a UK driving licence but was using her US licence at the time.

In mitigation, Joanne Eley said Griffin had expressed considerable remorse and accepted that the collision was her fault.

Miss Eley said: “She cannot forgive herself. She is a young woman and this will, of course, live with her for ever.”

Griffin said she had looked in both directions before beginning her move out of the airbase road but failed to look right for a second time.

No stop signs were in place at the exit road at the time of the accident although they have since been installed.

Miss Eley said Griffin was well aware of the requirement to drive on the left of the road in the UK and refuted any suggestion that she had not been doing that when the accident happened.

It is possible Griffin, who is due to be redeployed to South Korea next September, will be demoted within the USAF as a result of this case.

Sentencing her, Judge John Holt described the incident as a ‘tragedy’ which had resulted from momentary inattention on the part of Griffin.

Griffin was banned from driving in the UK for the next 12 months.

She received a community order with 100 hours unpaid work and was ordered to pay £1,500 costs.