Young RAF pilot killed by artic lorry while helping van driver involved in crash near Warwick - The Leamington Observer

Young RAF pilot killed by artic lorry while helping van driver involved in crash near Warwick

Leamington Editorial 8th Mar, 2021   0

A NEWLY-qualified RAF pilot was killed after stopping to help a van driver involved in a crash on the M40 near Warwick.

As Scott McConnell sat in his VW Golf with the hazard warning lights on to call the emergency services, an articulated lorry ploughed into the back of the car.

And HGV driver Malcolm Clarkson, of Cat Tail Lane, Southport, Merseyside, has been jailed for three-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to causing his death by dangerous driving.

The 44-year-old, who 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.

The 26-year-old victim was an air crew sergeant in the RAF, having recently graduated, and due to begin a new posting.

In November 2019, there was a collision between a white van driven by Colin Beckett collided and a Royal Mail lorry on the M40 northbound near Warwick Services.

The lorry pulled onto the hard shoulder, but the van was stationary in lane one when Mr McConnell came on the scene.

He pulled up behind the van so his VW Golf was half on the hard shoulder and half in lane one, and put his hazard lights on as he went to check on Mr Beckett.

After returning to his car and calling the emergency services, a Scania HGV ploughed into the back of the car, and sent it spinning into the back of the white van.

Other drivers, including a student who had been behind the Scania and still noticed the hazard lights, stopped to help.

Mr McConnell was found face-down on the verge, bleeding from his head and with a fractured shoulder. He died the next morning from head and neck injuries despite efforts to save him.

At the scene Clarkson, said he had looked in his mirror and when he looked back he saw a vehicle in lane one, so checked to see if he could pull out and there was then a collision.

When he was later interviewed Clarkson, who had previous convictions for falsifying his mileage and supplying drugs, declined to answer and questions.

Andrew Nuttall, defending, 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.”

He added the consequence would live with him forever and felt it was right 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.

“A student was following you, and his view of the road was poorer, but he saw Mr McConnell’s hazard lights.

“You plainly should have had a better view, but you did not seek to slow your vehicle or to move over.

“In fact you were accelerating, and it was less than a second before colliding with Mr McConnell’s vehicle that you applied your brakes.

“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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