A 34-year-old woman is facing a jail term after she killed a motorcyclist while driving and on the phone to a friend – even though she was using a hands-free device.
In the landmark ruling at Lincoln Crown court, Samantha Ayres was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.
The prosecution stated that Ayres had been in conversation with her friend for over 20 minutes, hands-free, and was driving on the wrong side of the road when she hit David Kirk, who was riding his motorbike in the correct position on the road. Despite the best efforts of police and ambulance crews, he died at the scene.
As he adjourned the case for sentencing, Judge John Pini QC said: “The fact that using a phone (hands-free) is lawful does not alter the fact it is a distraction. Guidelines make that clear.
“The jury is of the opinion that using a hands-free in these circumstances is dangerous. There has to be a custodial sentence.”
Greg Purcell, prosecuting, told the jury: “At the point of the collision Samantha Ayres drove her Ford Fiesta on entirely the wrong side of the road.
“She hit David Kirk who was riding his motorcycle in the opposite direction. She hit him head-on. David Kirk was correctly positioned in the opposite lane.
“There is no good reason for Samantha Ayres to be on the wrong side of the road at the point of impact.
“After the collision, Mrs Ayres claimed she had hit a pothole or a rut and that had caused her to lose control.
“The scene was investigated by an accident investigator and there is no evidence to support this account. There is no evidence that either vehicle braked before the collision.
“She was in conversation with a friend as she drove along. She had been in conversation for about 20 minutes before the collision.
“This collision was caused because the Fiesta was wholly in the wrong lane.”
“David Kirk suffered fatal injuries in the collision. Police and paramedics tried to save his life. Nothing could be done to save his life and he died at the scene.”
Under current legislation, hands-free devices are legal in the UK as long as the driver does not touch the phone, however as using them can be considered a distraction, it is now evident that even with their use, one can still be guilty of dangerous driving.
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