Doctor admits leaving scene of fatal crash in Southery


- Credit: Archant

A US military doctor from Littleport admitted failing to stop after a mattress fell from his truck onto a road, causing a fatal collision.

King’s Lynn magistrates heard Michael Clay, 55, of Ten Mile Bank, pleaded guilty to failing to report the accident which happened at 6.45am on January 29. He also admitted having an insecure load on his Toyota pick-up.

Prosecutor Susanna Chowdhury told the court that Dean Humberstone, 43, of South Road, Lakenheath, died when his car hit a tree, after he swerved to avoid the mattress which had fallen off Clay’s truck in Feltwell Road, Southery.

She said: “After the mattress fell on the road another driver caught up with the defendant and told him. However Mr Humberstone swerved to avoid it and hit a tree.

“The defendant did return to the scene and did try to help the deceased but crucially he left before the emergency services arrived.”

Miss Chowdhury said that Mr Clay failed to make contact with the police and was later arrested.

She added that Mr Humberstone’s car only had the side lights on despite it being dark, and a toxicology report found traces of cannabis.

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Neil Meacham, mitigating, described the case as “very tragic”.

He said: “There’s nothing I can say that will bring any solace. He is adamant that he returned to the scene and when he saw the gentleman in his car, with his own hands he tore out the window screen, that’s why his hands had cuts.

“He then left the gentleman to move his own vehicle as he didn’t want it to be a danger and stayed until the paramedics arrived. Then he left. He was in a state of shock and went to treat his own hands. He is deeply remorseful.”

Mr Clay continuously stared at the floor in the glass-fronted dock as PC Keith Sainsbury read out an impact statement on the behalf Mr Humberstone’s family.

In it his partner of 22 years, Angie Quinn, said: “He was my life. I lost 32lbs since his death and keep being sick for no reason. He was always there for us.”

Sentencing Clay, District Judge Peter Veits said: “I don’t believe you set out to want this to happen, but tragically a man lost his life. But if that mattress hadn’t fallen off, he would still be here today - and you have to live with that.

“You are a doctor so you knew full well of the man’s difficulty and you chose to leave, that’s despicable. With your expertise you could have been of assistance.”

Mr Veits handed out a 10-week suspended prison sentence to Mr Clay for one year and banned him from driving for 12 months.

He was also ordered to pay a £80 surcharge and £85 costs.

Leaving the court, Dean Humberstone’s father, Charlie Humberstone, said: “I am so disappointed - he got nothing. I just don’t know what to say.”

Staff Sgt Thomas Trower, spokesman for the US 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, said that under their privacy act, they cannot comment.

He said: “Since the airman was tried by a UK court, the US Air Force cannot pursue punitive action under our Uniform Code of Military Justice due to the NATO Status of Forces Agreement and US Air Force policy.”