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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

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Cumbrian death driver's ban reduced

A lorry driver who caused the death of two soldiers on a road through Cumbria will be back on the roads in just two years after having his ban slashed at appeal.

Squaddies Jim Austin, 24, and David Gartland, 40, were crushed by a truck driven by Colin Pattison in a pile-up caused by a thick plume of smoke on the A66 near Stainmore, Cumbria.

It happened on the afternoon of September 1, 2011. The soldiers, who were stationed at Catterick Garrison, in North Yorkshire, had themselves crashed into a broken down lorry hidden by the smoke when the lorry piled into the back of their Land Rover at 30mph killing them both.

Pattison, 53, of Goole, North Humberside, was jailed for 18 months, and banned from driving for six years, after being convicted at Carlisle Crown Court of causing death by careless driving in October last year.

But now an appeal court has slashed his driving ban from six to two years.

Lord Justice Davis, Mr Justice Supperstone and Judge Simon Tonking, sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, dismissed his appeal against the jail sentence, but agreed to reduce his driving ban.

The court heard the soldiers died when Pattison crashed his lorry into the back of their Land Rover, as Pte Austin and L/Sgt Gartland, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, were returning to Catterick.

Even though Pattison, an HGV driver for more than 30 years, saw the pall of “impenetrable” smoke from about 500 yards away he continued driving at a normal speed.

The court was told that he assumed it was nothing more serious than a stubble fire at the side of the road.

Pattison’s lawyers argued his jail term was over the top.

But Lord Justice Davis said: “We are not able to accept the criticism of the sentence...there were here not one, but two, deaths because he had driven too fast for the circumstances. We are unable to say that 18 months was manifestly excessive.”

However, going on to slash Pattison’s driving ban, Lord Justice Davis concluded: “It was not necessary or appropriate to disqualify him for anything like as long as six years.”

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