HGV driver jailed after killing RAF crewman Scott McConnell on M40
THE family of an RAF sergeant who was killed on the motorway has labelled the driver’s jail sentence as ‘not justice’. Scott McConnell, from Barrow, was sat in his VW Golf with the hazard warning lights on when an articulated lorry ploughed into the back of the car, causing fatal injuries.
HGV driver Malcolm Clarkson, 44, of Cat Tail Lane, Southport, has been jailed for three-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to causing his death by dangerous driving. Clarkson, who Warwick Crown Court heard was speaking to his mother on a hands-free phone and only braked 24 metres before impact, was banned from driving for six years and nine months. Prosecutor Grace Ong said that at the time 26-year-old Mr McConnell was an air crew sergeant in the RAF, having graduated from the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury, and was due to begin a posting in Chinook helicopter at RAF Benson.
On November 19 2019 at 10.15pm, Mr McConnell was helping a driver who had collided with a Royal Mail lorry on the M40 northbound near to Warwick Services between junctions 12 and 13. Mr McConnell put his hazard lights on before checking on the driver when a Scania HGV driven by Clarkson ploughed into the back of the car, which had been perfectly visible to other drivers. It was found that as he approached the scene Clarkson, who was on his phone hands-free to his mother, had been doing 61mph – and he was just 24 metres from the Golf when he braked, colliding with the car, said Miss Ong.
Police officers gave emergency first-aid to Mr McConnell before he was rushed by ambulance to University Hospital in Coventry where he was found to have ‘head and neck injuries which were not survivable,’ and he died at 7.20 in the morning. Mr McConnell’s family have spoken of their ‘excruciating and relentless pain’ after losing their son and brother.
They said: “We as Scott’s family are still processing the outcome of the court case, however we are all of the same mind that three and a half years imprisonment and out in half of that for ‘good behaviour’ is not justice. “We agree with the call for a change in the law which would see causing death by dangerous driving put in the same category as manslaughter. “We will feel the excruciating and relentless pain of losing our son and brother Scott for the rest of our days, but we plan to live our lives in his memory in the way he would want us to – with pride and dignity.”
Andrew Nuttall, defending Clarkson, said: “The defendant fully accepts his guilt. He never wanted to hurt anyone.
He doesn’t actually know what happened to him, but accepts it was his fault. “The consequence of his driving will live with him for ever. “He cannot do anything other than say over and over again that he is sorry.
He recognises the devastation felt by Mr McConnell’s family, but he has been greatly affected by this incident himself. “He recognises he will go to custody, and he feels that it is right that he should be punished.” Jailing Clarkson, Judge Anthony Potter told him: “HGV drivers like you owe a particular responsibility to other road-users because an error in their control can be so catastrophic.
“Scott McConnell had only recently graduated from the Defence Helicopter Flying School, and was only days away from fulfilling his ambition by taking up a position as a member of the aircrew on a Chinook helicopter. “He pulled over behind the stricken van and positioned his car and put his hazard lights on. His action in showing consideration for other road-users was entirely in character.
“You were on the phone, hands-free, to your mother. I am quite satisfied that was at least a factor in taking your attention away from the road. “He was a young man at the very start of his adult life, and that life has been taken away from him, and his family have been left with their anger and pan and grief.
“I have no doubt you are very sorry, but nothing you can do and nothing I can do can take away the pain the family suffers and will continue to suffer for the rest of their lives.”
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