Sleep deprived driver jailed for fatal RTA

03/05/2013

A driver who fell asleep behind the wheel of his car which then veered across a carriageway killing a man who was out walking his dog, has today been sentenced to four years imprisonment and given a five year disqualification from driving at Stafford Crown Court.

Joshua Butler, aged 22, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to causing death by dangerous driving and failing to stop after a road accident.

Mr Butler had been out drinking with friends the night before the fatal incident, which occurred at 7:40am on 14 December 2012 along Burton Road, Streethhay, Nr Lichfield, Staffordshire. Having lost control of his car, the defendant then fled the scene of the incident, but he would later hand himself to the police when he was arrested and charged.

Robin Allen, Senior Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said:

"This case has today highlighted the dangers drivers face every time they get behind a wheel of a vehicle when they are not fully rested. 

"In this case, Joshua Butler had been out drinking with friends until the early hours of the morning. Rather than order a taxi and head home to get some sleep, he made the fatal decision to walk the seven miles from Burton-on-Trent to his girlfriend's home to collect his car and drive home.

"A combination of sleep deprivation, the alcohol and the seven mile walk all played their part in rendering Butler unfit to drive. However, drive he did, which ultimately led to him falling asleep behind the wheel of his car, which then veered across the carriageway, mounted the pavement and collided with Stuart Blackwell resulting in the victim sustaining fatal injuries.  

"Rather than stop and call for the emergency services and help the victim, the defendant then fled the scene. He would later hand himself to the police some hours after the incident.

"To a competent and careful driver, the risks of getting behind a vehicle when you are unfit are clearly obvious. Joshua Butler knew of these risks, but he still decided to drive. This fatal decision led to the  tragic and avoidable death of Mr Blackwell and his dog. It has also resulted in the defendant being jailed today."