A lorry driver who killed a father of 11 children when he caused a crash while putting his eye drops in has been jailed.
Rajesh Patel, 54, hit a broken down truck full of chopped steel and Nigel Blount, 62, was unable to avoid colliding into the back of him on March 5 last year.
He was trapped for an hour before being released and taken to hospital where he died five weeks later.
A court heard Patel told paramedics who treated him at the scene on the A46 in Coventry that he had been putting some eye drops in.
Patel, of Sutton Coldfield, West Mids., was jailed for 12 months on Wednesday (21/12) after he was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving at Warwick Crown Court.
Judge Stephen Eyre QC said: “On the 5th of March 2015 you were driving a heavy goods vehicle on the busy A46.
“You were driving at speed, not grossly excessive speed, but at speed in a heavy goods vehicle.
“It was important for you to take proper care in such circumstances because, if you did not, there would be grave consequences.
“Nigel Blount was a good and decent man.
“He had shown love and care to others by fostering over a period of 20 years and adopting five of those who had been in his care.
“He has left a real legacy of achievement, and will be remembered by many with love and gratitude.
“You had to respond to a dangerous situation you had not created, but other drivers kept their eyes open and were able to avoid the broken-down lorry.
“It was clear from the CCTV dashcam and from the expert evidence that you failed even to begin to take evasive action until the very last moment.
“It was that failure which led to Mr Blount’s death.
“You are 54 and of good character, and you have made a positive contribution to the lives of others.
“You have been a professional driver for 22 years, driving, among others, as a driver of retained fire service vehicles.
“I have considered anxiously whether I can suspend the inevitable sentence, but I cannot escape the fact that I have to sentence you for dangerous driving in a heavy goods vehicle, at speed on a busy road, in circumstances where your dangerous driving caused a death.”
The court heard Patel smashed into a broken down Volvo truck which was carrying a full load of chopped iron and steel.
Fellow trucker Nigel Blount, 62, was then unable to avoid crashing his MAN lorry into the back of Patel’s Mercedes HGV.
Mr Blount was trapped for an hour before being cut free by firefighters and rushed to hospital with serious trauma injuries, including fractured ribs and vertebrae.
He died in hospital five weeks later from an infection but consultant neuro-pathologist Professor Safa Al-Sarraj said the spinal trauma injuries he had suffered in the crash were “a major contribution to his death”.
Patel and Mr Jones went to hospital in a second ambulance – and during the journey, when a medic asked whether he was on any medication, Patel said he had been putting some eye drops in.
David Bright, defending, said: “This man did not set out that day to commit a crime.
“It is possible to look at this as involving only a momentary lapse of concentration, a serious one, but it is not a case where he has been driving dangerously for a long period.
“He has been living with this now for one-and-three-quarter years. That is grave punishment, and it’s not going to go away.
“How’s the public interest met by sending this particular driver to prison? It would serve no purpose. He is suffering now from the knowledge that his action has led to someone’s death.
“One matter that needs to be mentioned is that the deceased was a contributory factor by driving so very close behind the defendant’s vehicle. It doesn’t sound attractive, because he’s dead, but it is a factor.”