Driver Darren Harris jailed for causing death by dangerous driving
PUBLISHED: 12:50 27 March 2012 | UPDATED: 14:09 27 March 2012
A father-of-three from Collier Row has been jailed for four years after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.
»A father-of-three from Collier Row has been jailed for four years after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.
Darren Harris, 38, was also on trial at Basildon Crown Court last week for careless driving.
Harris, of White Hart Lane, pleaded not guilty to both counts, but on Monday the jury found him guilty of the first charge.
Harris’s car killed Peter Scott, 60, on January 10 last year, as the pensioner crossed Collier Row Lane.
Mr Scott had just left one of the pubs in the area, but tests showed the alcohol in his system was half the legal drink-drive limit.
The prosecution claimed Harris was travelling over the 30mph limit when he knocked Mr Scott over, and was using a mobile phone while driving. Harris denied both.
BT phone records show that his phone received a call at 5.29pm, which finished at 5.30pm. Harris claimed his hands-free kit, which he said was switched on but he was not using, answered the call automatically. The crash is believed to have happened shortly before the end of the call.
Harris admitted not stopping at the crash, but instead panicked and drove to his house nearby. His father-in-law took him to a police station three hours later.
On Monday prosecuting barrister Jonathan Polnay said Harris’s driving “was dangerous and it fell far below the standards of a competent and careful driver. This is an appalling piece of driving – to knock someone and not even to brake.”
Mr Polnay said: “He said he was paying attention when driving, but there were a number of hallmarks of a story that has been cooked up later.
“He says ‘I remember very clearly, it was on the passenger seat with the hands-free kit, but I can’t remember the traffic or any other details’.”
In evidence last week PC John Carter, the collision investigator, said his finding suggested Harris was driving 28 to 37 mph, but said this was an underestimate.
When referring to this Mr Polnay said: “Mr Harris was speeding and the collision investigator was categoric about that. If Mr Harris was travelling the minimum of 30mph he would have had the chance to see Mr Scott.”
But defence barrister Paul Willcock said in reply: “The expert evidence gave a range of speeds, and one speed was just as likely as the other. It’s devastating knowing that he has killed someone and standing here before you. Since then his life has been thrown into chaos.” He added: “He genuinely believed he wasn’t on the phone at the time of the collision.”
Harris was caught speeding in April 2011 and using a mobile phone while driving in March 2011.
He was also disqualified from driving for seven years and must take an extended driving test.
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