Man jailed for causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving - Oxford

17/07/2017

A man appeared at Oxford Crown Court today, Monday, 17 July 2017, and was jailed for six years for causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving in Oxford last August.

Thomas Hunter, aged 59, of Mansfield Road, Mansfield, was sentenced today after pleading guilty to both offences at the same court on 8 June 2017. In addition to the custodial sentence, Hunter was disqualified from driving for five years and four months.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved a terrible incident, which led to the untimely death of a toddler and the serious injury of a woman on the A34 last August.

"At about 7.30pm on Thursday, 25 August 2016, Thomas Hunter was driving a heavy goods vehicle northbound on the A34 at Hinksey Hill, near Oxford when he failed to see or react to the queue of stationary vehicles ahead of him and ploughed into the back of them, at speed, causing destruction and devastation. Isla Wiggin, aged 3, and her mother, Collette Wiggin, aged 31, sustained serious injuries and were taken to hospital where Isla sadly died on Saturday, 27 August 2016, and Collette tragically lost her unborn baby, Harry.

"Hunter answered 'no comment' in his police interview, but on Thursday, 8 June 2017, at Oxford Crown Court, due to the strength of evidence against him, and recognising that justice had caught up with him, he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

"This incident, caused by inattention, resulted in a tragic waste of life and could have been avoided. The stationary and slow moving vehicles were clearly visible to Hunter for a considerable time, but he was oblivious to the approaching hazard. Evidence showed that Hunter maintained a speed of 54 mph until around one second prior to impact. This case highlights the serious consequences of failing to be alert when driving. Holding a driving licence brings with it a high degree of responsibility that should always be at the forefront of every driver's mind.

"It is unimaginable to think of the emotional impact that this incident has had on Mr and Mrs Wiggin. I would like to express my admiration for the way in which they have conducted themselves throughout a very difficult and lengthy legal process, which was made substantially more protracted by Hunter seeking all manner of expert reports in an effort to evade liability. I hope that the conviction and today's sentence will in some way help Mr and Mrs Wiggin, their family and friends come to terms with this tragic event. My thoughts are very much with them, and everybody else that was caught up in this incident, at this time."

Senior investigating officer Sergeant Beth Walton, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: "This has been a tragic case in which the actions of one person - Thomas Hunter - have resulted in the deaths of a little girl and her unborn baby brother, and serious injuries being sustained by their mother, Colette Wiggin.

"For reasons we have not been able to fully ascertain, Thomas Hunter was driving his lorry in a dangerous manner, and his actions that day have devastated a family, which will never be the same again.

"If Hunter had taken care over his driving, and had been paying full attention to the road, Isla would be here today, along with baby Harry.

"I would also like to pay tribute to Isla and Harry's parents, Mr and Mrs Wiggin. They have been through something which no parents should ever have to endure, and I cannot begin to imagine the pain that this incident has caused them. I would like to thank them for their incredible bravery throughout the police investigation and the court process, and I am grateful that they have been spared the trauma of a trial process.

"The collision caused by Hunter also affected a number of other drivers and witnesses, some of whom sustained injuries, and I would like to thank them for their support during our investigation.

"This case shows what the catastrophic consequences can be when drivers are not concentrating when at the wheel, and I would urge all motorists to never allow their concentration to lapse while driving. This incident was entirely preventable."