A BMW driver has been jailed for six months for crashing into and causing the death of a man who got out of his car to tend to an injured deer on a country road.
Geoffrey Saville turned around when he saw the deer and parked his VW van on Midville Road, Stickney, in front of where the animal lay on the road.
Mr Saville parked in the opposite carriageway to where he was going and was facing any oncoming vehicles.
He had his headlights and hazard warning lights on but as he picked up the deer he was hit by a BMW which drove into him.
He was thrown into a roadside ditch. His vehicle was pushed off the road with his wife Jill still in the front passenger seat.
56-year-old Mr Saville, who lived nearby, suffered fatal head and chest injuries.
The BMW driver David Eldridge, 69, of Old Fen Lane South, Scrub Hill, near Coningsby, admitted a charge of causing death by careless driving as a result of the incident on February 13, 2019.
Eldridge was jailed for six months and banned from driving for two years and three months. He was ordered to pass an extended retest before being allowed his licence back.
Recorder Graham Huston, passing sentence, told him: “I have given a great deal of anxious consideration as to whether the sentence might be suspended. I have concluded that there are not sufficient grounds for me to do so.
“You have not seen a lit vehicle with hazard lights flashing in your carriageway until you were so close to it that a collision could not be avoided.
“It was a lit obstruction. The road was dead straight. The weather was clear and there was good visibility.
“The prosecution case is that you became distracted by something inside or outside your vehicle. It is the only explanation as to what happened.
“It may be because there was a young puppy on the back seat. It may be you fell asleep. Something stopped you from seeing a lit obstruction in your carriageway. It was not a momentary distraction.”
Daren Samat, prosecuting, said the incident happened as Mr Saville was driving home with his wife after visiting his sister in Norfolk.
Eldridge, who had two pints of beer earlier in the day and later had a glass of red wine with his tea, was driving at around 30 to 40 mph.
Mr Samat said: “It was an open stretch of road. For over 100 yards the defendant should have seen the Volkswagen. It was dark. The weather is described as fine and clear.
“Mrs Saville remained in the car with her seat belt on.
“Mr Saville walked towards the animal. It must have been alive because he knelt down and stroked it. Mrs Saville noticed the lights of a car coming towards them. R Savile was in the process of lifting the deer.”
Mr Samut said that Mrs Saville shouted a warning to her husband but he may not have heard because the car door and windows were closed.
The approaching BMW then drove straight into the Volkswagen.
Passing motorists and a neighbour who heard the collision went to assist and a 999 call was made.
Mr Saville was found nearby. He died as a result of his injuries.
Eldridge was given a blood test which showed he had 21 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood which was below the legal limit of 80 mgs of alcohol.
When Eldridge was interviewed, he claimed that the lights on the VW only came on as he approached it but the court was told that the headlights and hazard warning lights were on throughout the time.
Jill Saville, in a victim impact statement, said she has been left devastated by the loss of her husband and has since suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.
She said: “On February 13, 2019 my whole world fell apart. I’ve lost my best friend, my soul mate and everything. There will always be a massive hole where Geoff was.”
Dominic Pitter, in mitigation, said Eldridge was unable to explain what happened.
“If he had seen the lights he would have avoided a collision. He must have reacted to something because he started to brake.”
He said that Eldridge was full of remorse for what happened.
“This is somebody who has expressed genuine remorse. For some reason he did not see it.
“He suffered serious injuries himself as a result and he was hospitalised for five days. He now suffers ill-health.”