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Man jailed for A34 East Ilsley death crash

Twenty-four-year-old made "emotional calls" on mobile prior to fatal collision

Chris Ord


01635 886639

Man jailed for A34 East Ilsley death crash

A MAN has been jailed today for three years and eight months for killing another motorist in a collision on the A34 at East Ilsley.

Lewis Stratford, aged 24, admitted to using his mobile phone to make a series of "emotional phone calls" prior to and at the time of the collision on June 11 last year.

Stratford's Vauxhall Corsa collided into the central reservation and crossed onto the opposite carriageway colliding head-on with a BMW shortly before 10pm.

The driver of the BMW, 28-year-old Gavin Roberts, sustained life-threatening injuries and died in hospital four days after the incident.

Stratford, of Field Avenue, Oxford, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was sentenced at Reading Crown Court today (Friday).

Following the sentencing, senior investigating officer Sgt Beth Walton, from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: "This case tragically evidences that distractions whilst driving do have and will continue to have catastrophic consequences, unless there is a change in some driver's attitudes. 

"A combination of speed, mobile phone distraction and emotions in this case led to the collision and loss of Gavin Roberts' life, a young man with everything to live for. His family and friends lives shattered by his loss.

"This collision was preventable and would never had happened if Lewis Stratford had made different choices that night. 

"His life has been affected, his life changed forever and the impact of his prison sentence and driving disqualification will continue to affect his life following his release.

"I hope the sentence today, and a change in law to increase penalties which came into place this week, will further highlight how seriously these offences will be taken and should encourage motorists to think twice before speeding and picking up the phone.

"Whilst today's sentencing will never bring Gavin back, I hope it will allow his family and friends to have a sense of closure and enable them to continue through their grief at this difficult time.

"I would ask people to think, think about the consequences I've mentioned, if you speed, if you use your mobile phone whilst driving then stop doing it and encourage those that you know who also do it, to stop."

Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Adrian Foster, said mobile phone evidence determined that Stratford had been engaged on a phone call on his mobile phone immediately before, during and after the collision.

He added: "This is a tragic waste of Gavin's life, caused by inattention and distraction, and could have been avoided.

"Stratford answered 'no comment' in his police interview, but on Tuesday, 24 January 2017, at Reading Crown Court, due to the strength of evidence against him, and recognising that justice had caught up with him, he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

"This case highlights the serious consequences of failing to be alert when driving. Holding a driving licence brings with it a high degree of responsibility that should always be at the forefront of every driver's mind. Mobile phones must not be used by drivers, under any circumstances, as they are a lethal distraction, which, as this case demonstrates, leads to untold misery.

"I hope that the conviction and today's sentence will in some way help the family and friends of Mr Roberts to come to terms with this tragic event. My thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Following the fatal crash a petition was launched by Mr Roberts' partner Meg Williamson calling for the speed limit to be reduced from 70mph to 50mph on the dual carriageway.

The petition has so far gained more than 2,400 signatures. 

In a statement Mr Roberts' father Geoff, said: "The last time I saw my son, Gavin, was three months before he died when we spent three days in Dublin together. I was on a trip to Ireland from our native Australia and he came to meet me. We had a good time. We always did. He was a great mate to me.

"He was a good mate to other people too. Gavin made friends easily, that's who he was. Every day he was in England he called friends and family in Australia, keeping in touch with everyone, seeing how they were.

"The last contact I had with him was the day before he died when I had booked a trip to Europe which included four days in London. I emailed him to ask what we could do together during that time. I never got a reply.

"I knew I would miss him when he told me he was moving from our home in Wollongong, to England to work as an electrical engineer. He started work in February 2016. He was on his way to work four months later when his car was hit by another car in a head-on crash.

"Friends in England called my older son, Nathan, to tell him about the collision and he told me. Hours later we were on a plane from Australia to see Gavin.

"Gavin's injuries were so bad that days later we had to make the decision to switch off the life support.

"Gavin's friends in England were wonderful to us and looked after us. Later in Australia we held Gavin's funeral. It was overwhelming how many people were there. Gavin wasn't a politician or a famous person but people liked him, they really liked him. Everyone wanted to pay their respects to him.

 "He was a great guy, a delightful person. I am very proud that he was my son.

 "At his funeral I found out that Gavin had made a pact with his brother to return to Australia after a couple of years in England so that in the future the two of them could bring up their kids together.

 "My son died because the other driver was using his mobile phone." 

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Article comments

  • hgv1driver


    07/03/2017 - 22:10

    Another small sentence for using a mobile phone while driving and killing someone i am disgusted with today's courts more needs to be done


  • Louise


    06/03/2017 - 11:11

    Woefully inadequate as he'll be a free man in under 2 years with remission. His victim's friends & family have a lifetime of painful memories to contend with.