Barningham man pleads guilty to causing death by careless driving

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A man pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving today, following an accident on the A143 in Pakenham last year in which Bury St Edmunds midwife Hannah Seeley was killed.

“This is a tragic case which, unfortunately, dates back to April 22, 2012,” said Ian Devine, prosecuting.

He told Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court that Miss Seeley had been engaged and was due to be married later in 2012.

He said on the night of the accident, Miss Seeley, 23, called her fiancé at 9pm saying she was leaving West Suffolk Hospital, where she worked as a midwife. She then drove along the A143, through Great Barton, towards home.

At the same time, Luke Graham Anderson, then 21, left his home in Barningham for the petrol station in Great Barton, where he was due to collect his partner.

Mr Devine said Anderson and Miss Seeley were travelling in opposite directions on a 60mph road which was unlit for the majority of the way.

He said there was a slow sign painted on the road on the approach to a left hand bend on the A143 and double solid white lines on the road itself.

“Mr Anderson came around that bend. He then drifted or moved across onto the opposite carriageway and collided with the vehicle being driven by Miss Seeley,” he said.

There was a ‘tremendous impact’ and Miss Seeley’s car was forced off the road, ending up in an adjoining field.

Anderson’s car, which received ‘significant damage’, was spun around at least once before ending up in the opposite direction, said Mr Devine.

Paramedics pronounced Miss Seeley dead at the scene at around 9.50pm.

There was no alcohol in Anderson’s system and no apparent mechanical defect to his vehicle.

Mr Devine said the speedometer in Anderson’s car was fixed at 80mph, but he warned there was no way to know if that speed was accurate.

A witness estimated Anderson’s speed at between 60-70mph but Mr Devine warned that they had been travelling in the opposite direction.

He said it was unclear why Anderson had lost control of his car but described the road conditions on that night as ‘damp or greasy’.

In mitigation, David Stewart said there was no evidence of alcohol use, a police chase, car racing or mobile phone use. He said Anderson did not smoke and had not been eating.

The accident happened at around 9.22pm and Anderson did not have to collect his fiancée until 10pm so was not in a hurry, said Mr Stewart.

He added that Anderson held a clean licence and was a man of previous good character, having never been arrested before.

Mr Stewart told magistrates Anderson could remember little of the incident at the roadside but gave as full and frank an account as he could.

He said Anderson had received ‘very serious’ leg injuries in the crash, for which he was continuing to receive treatment.

Both Miss Seeley’s family and Anderson’s family listened to the case from the court’s public gallery.

Mr Stewart told the court Anderson and his family had wanted to contact Miss Seeley’s family after the accident ‘to express their apologies and regret’ but had been advised not to by police.

Presiding magistrate Christina Baker offered her condolences to Miss Seeley’s family.

She said: “We’re glad that you are here and we’re glad that Mr Anderson’s family are here because it’s important he has support as well. This is a very tragic and serious case and we’re going to adjourn for a pre-sentence report, all options open.”

Anderson, 22, of Hopton Road, Barningham, was released on unconditional bail until May 2.

He was given an interim driving ban.