A VAN driver has been convicted of causing a couple's death by careless driving after a collision which happened as they walked over a pedestrian crossing in Carlisle.

The tragedy happened on March 1, 2021, in West Tower Street when a Mercedes Sprinter van that was being driven by motorcycle trader Marc Large collided with 62-year-old Terence Abson and his partner Georgina Lands, 56.

Mr Abson died at the scene while his partner died seven days later.

After the collision, Large, 49, who did not give evidence during the trial, told police he had not seen the couple until “a split second” before it happened. He denied that his driving was careless.

After the jury at Carlisle Crown Court delivered two guilty verdicts – one for each victim – Judge Michael Fanning told the defendant he will face an immediate driving ban, though its ultimate length will be decided  when he is sentenced.

That hearing will be on March 22. As the verdicts were announced by the jury foreman, Large sat silent in the dock, with his head bowed.

Judge Fanning told the defendant: “I make no promise as to how I will deal with this.

"Two people died and that has to be taken into consideration. I also recognise that this was careless driving – driving below the standard of a careful and competent motorist, not far below; and it was not dangerous driving.”

After granting the defendant bail and releasing him from the dock of the court, Judge Fanning turned a young family member of the couple who died.

He told the man: “I know you have been at court throughout and I know how difficult that has been for you. I want to express on behalf of myself and jury and everyone else concerned in this case how sorry we are that you are in this situation.

"It’s a tragic situation…

“Thank you for your dignified presence throughout.” During the trial, the jury was shown  CCTV clips which recorded the collision.

In one, Mr Abson and Miss Lands were seen crossing the road, from Scotch Street, with the nearby vehicle traffic light on amber as the defendant’s van approached moments before impact.

Bystander Amy Rickerby was several metres away; she heard a vehicle accelerate and then a bang, and she turned and walked toward the crossing before dialling 999.

Sisters Abbie and Nicole Fontana were on board a bus on the opposite side of the road, and saw the collision.

Hospital worker Abbie was two metres away.

She saw Mr Abson and Miss Lands start to cross the road “before the green man had come on”. “As they crossed the road they were looking down at the same phone which one of them was holding,” she stated.

Abbie, who also heard an acceleration, remarked that the van was travelling at a “normal speed” “There was nothing to do with the speed that caused me concern,” she said.

“I can remember the driver was looking up because I could see his face quite clearly.

“The van then collided with [Mr Abson] and [Miss Lands]. She said that due to the coupe looking at a phone they would not have seen the van coming. She recalled hearing the defendant after getting out of his van saying: “It’s not my fault.”

Yet another bystander, Rita Simpson, told the court she had heard Large say after the collision: “I wasn’t speeding,” but the had also added: “It’s someone’s mum and dad’.”

The prosecution case was that Large, of Gleneagles Road, Sunderland, had “ample time and opportunity to pay attention to what was on the road ahead of him”.

Motorcycle trader Large said in a prepared statement to police he was not distracted at the time, and that his mind was on his driving. “I really can’t explain how this collision occurred as I never saw the couple until a split second before I hit them,” he stated.

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