A driver who was not his wearing glasses when he drove into a much-loved mother as she used a pedestrian crossing with her young son has been jailed for more than five years for causing her death by dangerous driving.
Stuart Levy, 37, displayed an “utterly dangerous and cavalier attitude” in not wearing his spectacles, which were broken and found later at his ex-partner’s home, the sentencing judge said.
He knew he needed to wear them, having suffered an almost 50% loss of his “visual field” in his left eye following a brain haemorrhage, Teesside Crown Court heard.
He was driving a Ford Focus when he knocked down and killed recently married Shantelle Kirkup, a 29-year-old mother-of-two, who was crossing a road in Darlington while holding her six-year-old son Jaxon’s hand.
The aftermath of the collision was witnessed by her husband James who was pushing their two-year-old daughter Jemima in a buggy, and had crossed the road a second ahead of them.
Mr Kirkup had taken his son to a dinosaur show while his wife had been buying birthday presents with Jemima. The family had been to buy ice creams before the collision.
Levy had been out to collect his methadone prescription and had drunk his daily dose before the crash on St Cuthbert’s Way on a hot, clear day in May last year.
The court heard he was speeding on the 30mph road and had undertaken another vehicle as he approached the crossing.
A passenger in that vehicle said “what an idiot” as he sped past.
Levy had a clear view of 180 metres on the road. The family crossed while the lights were on amber, but Levy failed to react until it was too late, the court heard.
It was estimated he was travelling at 34 to 41mph when he knocked down Mrs Kirkup.
Richard Bennett, prosecuting, said: “Shantelle had hold of Jaxon’s hand for his safety, that last act of care helped propel Jaxon out of the path of the vehicle, thereby probably saving his life.
“In the split second after the impact the defendant stopped his car and then drove a short distance to the nearside.
“Mr Kirkup, not initially realising the enormity of what had just happened, thought the defendant was driving off after a collision and went to stop him.
“He then realised his wife and son were both lying on the road.
“He began to scream in anguish.”
Mrs Kirkup, who worked with her husband running four businesses, could not be saved.
Jaxon suffered a badly broken leg for which he is still receiving physiotherapy.
Levy, of Rocket Street, Darlington, was arrested and told police he was not speeding, that he was wearing his glasses and the pedestrians had run out when the lights were still on green. These claims were shown to be lies, the court heard.
Although his speech seemed slurred when he was arrested, tests revealed that he had not been drinking nor had he taken any illicit drugs.
Levy was jailed for five years and four months after admitting causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Victim statements from his victim’s widower, brother and mother were read out.
Mr Kirkup said in his statement they had been married for just seven months, had planned to work hard together, have more children and enjoy an early retirement.
“Shantelle was a natural mother, she loved being a mum and a wife,” he said.
Simon Perkins, defending, said Levy mitigation was his guilty plea.
He said: “He recognises the dreadful wrong he has brought on this family and he is remorseful.”
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, sentencing, said Mrs Kirkup had a successful and happy family and business life. “All that was destroyed as a result of your driving,” he said.
Levy’s vision was particularly impaired on his left side and it was from that direction that the Kirkups crossed the carriageway.
“You knew full well you shouldn’t be driving without glasses,” he said. “You chose to ignore that.
“That was an utterly dangerous and cavalier attitude.”
The judge banned him from driving for eight years.