A lorry driver caused a double fatal crash when he drove straight into the back of a car waiting to turn right off the A17, Lincoln Crown Court was told on Tuesday.
Kelvin Mason failed to see the Citroen Xsara in time to stop, and although he braked, it was too late and his 18-tonne lorry smashed into the back of the car.
Joyce Traves, 83, and her friend Mary Blades, 84, who were both passengers in the car, died as a result of the injuries they received in the collision at Swineshead in August 2018.
The two women, together with their husbands, were on their way to lunch at a nearby restaurant.
John Traves, who was driving the car, was seriously injured and spent three weeks in the Queen’s Medical Centre at Nottingham before being released. Frank Blades was also injured but less seriously.
Michael Cranmer-Brown, prosecuting, said that Mr Traves was waiting to make a right turn into Villa Lane to access a farm shop and restaurant where the group planned to have lunch.
Mason, who was driving behind the car, did not pay attention to what was ahead of him.
“It was a dry day. There were no problems with visibility.
“Mr Traves says he was indicating to turn right. It should have been clear to anyone in the defendant’s position what was happening ahead of him
“He should have been aware Mr Traves was slowing down and had come to a stop. He should have been aware of the need for him to slow long before he applied emergency braking.
“This was a professional driver who was driving a large goods vehicle. The consequences of a vehicle like that colliding with a saloon car are obvious.”
John Traves, in a victim impact statement, said he has since suffered nightmares, flashbacks and insomnia. He said that the death of his wife had caused him great difficulty.
Frank Blades said he had been married to his wife for 65 years. He said “Part of me died with her. I think about my wife first thing in the morning. I try to make life like it was when she was alive. I cannot express how much I miss her.”
The court was told that Mason had no previous convictions and had a clean driving licence.
He was driving within the speed limit and, the court was told, there was no evidence of him being distracted by a mobile phone or altering the radio or sat nav.
When he was interviewed by police he said he was aware of the car in front of him.
Mr Cranmer-Brown said: “He said he completed a mirror check. When he looked back the car had stopped and was immediately in front of him. He said he slammed the brakes on but collided with the car.”
Kelvin Mason, 52, of The Brambles, Holbeach, admitted two charges of causing death by careless driving as a result of the collision in August 2018.
He was given a six month jail sentence suspended for 18 months with 200 hours of unpaid work. He was also banned from driving for two years.
Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight, passing sentence, said the main reason why Mason was not going straight to prison was because of the effect on both his wife and his mother both of whom he acts as carer for.
She told him: “This was a dead straight single carriageway road. It was a fine, dry day.
“You had no reason not to see the Xsara slowing and stopping. You would also have been able to see that there was oncoming traffic that prevented the car from turning immediately.
“You had plenty of time to stop and you didn’t do so, braking instead at the last minute and colliding with the car. You should have been aware of what was happening in front of you.”
Tim Pole, in mitigation, said that Mason apologised for what happened.
“He was a professional driver. It was something he had carried out with great competence over many years. He had no previous convictions and not even a point on his driving licence.
“He never intended for this to happen and is deeply apologetic that it did. It is something that he will carry with him for the rest of his life. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is the first thing he thinks about when he wakes and the last thing he thinks about before he goes to bed.
“He is a decent, honest and hard-working man.”
Mr Pole told the court that Mason, who no longer works as a lorry driver, is the carer for both his wife, who has a number of serious medical conditions, and for his mother.