doc

THE devastated family of a beloved father say they will be “scarred forever” following a horrific crash caused by a soldier who bent down to pick up his sat nav.

Paul Stevens, 49, from Elmstead Market, died in hospital after his Vauxhall was struck by Conor Sansom’s Fiat 500 on the A133 in Weeley.

Sansom, 21, a soldier in the Welsh Guards, was dropping his partner at work when he bent down to retrieve a sat nav from the footwell.

His vehicle swerved across the central white line colliding with Mr Steven’s car.

Gazette:

Loved - Paul Stevens died in the crash

Paul Steven’s father, Brian Stevens, and daughters Samantha Stevens and Katie Brown were passengers in the vehicle.

Brian Stevens suffered serious injuries which were treated as life-threatening including a ruptured diaphragm and a collapsed lung.

A victim impact statement written by Katie Brown, who was 23-weeks pregnant at the time of the crash, was read out in court.

She said she now suffered from depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the crash.

“What I saw that day will scar me forever,” she said.

“No-one should have to watch their father die, especially not in such an awful way.

“I lost my dad and gained memories that will haunt me. My daughter lost her grandad, a man she will never get to know.

Gazette:

Scene - Paul Stevens, 49, from Elmstead Market, died in hospital after his Vauxhall was struck by Conor Sansom’s Fiat 500 on the A133 in Weeley

“Pregnancy is meant to be an exciting time but I was robbed of that.

“With the injuries sustained in the crash I could have lost my baby.

“Before the day of the crash I lived a relatively care free life. Since the crash I have struggled with every day tasks - going out is a battle.”

Sarah Vine, mitigating for Sansom, of Geranium Close, Clacton, said he had also been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since the crash.

“It is hard, if not impossible, to overstate the tragedy of this case,” she said.

“His remorse is unqualified. He has never at any point turned away from the fact he is responsible for the death of Paul Stevens.

“He now has a 13-week-old daughter who he loves more than he loves anyone or anything.

“His fiancée is a stable, respectable and responsible young woman and he has done everything he can to protect her from the impact of this offence.

“There is nothing this court can do that will make Mr Sansom feel worse about himself and what he has done.”

Judge Jonathan Seely sentenced Sansom to four years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving and 18 months in prison for the causing serious injury by dangerous driving, to run concurrently.

He had denied the charges. Sansom was banned from the roads for five years and will not be permitted to drive again before taking an extended re-test.

Sentencing Sansom, Judge Seely said: “In addition to a prison sentence you must live with the burden of having caused the death of an innocent person for the rest of your life.

“I am quite satisfied that is a heavy burden for you and you are genuinely remorseful.

“If your life is changed forever that is greatly overshadowed by the impact of your actions on the victim’s family.

"It is clear Paul Stevens was a wonderful man. It is fully because of your actions his life was cruelly cut short.”

In a joint statement reacting to the sentence, the Stevens family said: “This is a sad line drawn under a horrible chapter.

“No time would have helped us take away the loss we will feel for the rest of our lives.

“We will celebrate the privilege of the years we had to love Paul.

“Moving forward with our faith and trust in God, we hope this will make people think before they drive and hope the sentence gives time for reflection and remorse.”