Horncastle driver convicted of causing crash while using hands free phone

News from the courts ANL-171019-151707001
News from the courts ANL-171019-151707001

A woman motorist from Horncastle who caused a fatal crash while chatting on her hands free phone was today (Thursday, November 30) warned she faces a jail sentence.

Samantha Ayres,(34), of West Street, was on the wrong side of the road when she collided head-on with motorcyclist David Kirk,(26), on Baumber Road, Horsington.

A jury at Lincoln Crown Court was told that Ayres had been talking on a hands-free phone for 20 minutes before the collision and was still in mid-conversation with her friend Marc Lunn when she struck the oncoming motorcycle.

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.

“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.

“After the collision Mrs Ayres claimed she had hit a pot hole 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.”

Ayres claimed she lost control of her Ford Fiesta after her rear passenger tyre went on to the verge on a rural road in Lincolnshire.

But the jury heard police experts found no evidence on the road for her explanation and concluded that she could have been distracted by her hands free calls.

Police collision investigator PC Godfrey Barlow told the jury that the use of a hands free phone could provide a distraction and was a possible cause of the collision.

“The research shows less time is spent looking at the road.

“It is going to lower your situational awareness.”

PC Barlow said he could not discount that using a hands free phone for such a period of time had led to a distraction.

The officer added that while the use of a hands free phone was lawful it is advised by the Highway Code that it is safer to stop.

Ayres admitted to police that she had been using a hands free phone and made four calls during her journey from Boston.

She claimed that she made the first of the four calls while stationary and said some of the others were made while in traffic.

Ayres told the jury she called Mr Lunn while she was waiting at traffic lights and discussed the potential purchase of a VW camper van by her partner.

“With Marc being in the business I wanted specifications, what was the best to buy,” Ayres said.

Under cross-examination Ayres claimed she wasn’t “focussed” on the conversation with Mr Lunn and when asked if the call had distracted her, she replied: “No”, adding, “not knowingly.”

When asked if it wasn’t the call that distracted her, then what did, she replied: “I don’t know.”

At the time of the collision Ayres was using a legal hands free system which was fitted to her car and paired to her mobile phone via Bluetooth.

She admitted making four calls. The first two lasted less than two minutes and then she made a call of four minutes and 14 seconds to her mother in which she asked to borrow £40.

Ayres then rang Marc Lunn at 5.34pm and was still connected to him in the moments before she collided with Mr Kirk.

The length of the call between them was recorded at 27 minutes and 31 seconds.

Ayres denied a charge of causing death by dangerous driving as a result of the collision on November 7, 2016 but admitted her driving was careless.

She broke down in tears after the jury took just an hour to convict her of causing death by dangerous driving.

Judge John Pini QC adjourned sentence until December 5 but told Ayres: “There has to be an immediate custodial sentence.

“The fact that using a phone (hands free) is lawful does not alter the fact it is an actual distraction.

“On the jury’s verdict this wasn’t a case of her clipping the verge she was distracted by her phone.”

Judge Pini also imposed an interim driving ban on Ayres who granted bail until her sentence hearing.