Five year jail sentence for death-crash lorry driver
A FOREIGN lorry driver who killed a devoted dad-of-three after a 'very dangerous piece of driving' has been jailed for five years.
Klaas Alewijn Jan Rehorst, 40, was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court today (Friday) after causing the death of 37 year-old Alan Gair earlier this year. Rehorst, who pleaded guilty, has also been banned from driving in the UK for 10 years.
The court heard how the Dutchman carried out an overtaking manoeuvre on a single carriageway section of the A1 near Belford at around 11.45am on October 3.
It was said that Rehorst, who was driving a left-hand drive heavy goods vehicle (HGV), had 'little or no vision' of vehicles travelling in the opposite direction.
The collision was so great that the Vauxhall Vectra that Mr Gair and his wife Kelly were travelling in, flipped around and left the road.
Witnesses said that they saw no breaklights from the HGV prior to the smash.
Mr Gair was killed at the scene while Mrs Gair suffered multiple injuries, including six fractured vertebra. She was airlifted to hospital.
But in what Paul Rowland, prosecuting, described as a 'prolonged, persistent and deliberate case of very bad driving' it was said that Rehorst collided with the Gair's on his second risky overtaking manoeuvre in a matter of minutes.
Rehorst, who was travelling south from Scotland to Middlesbrough in a Dutch registered vehicle, was caught up in a slow-moving convoy on the A1 at Berwick-Upon-Tweed.
Becoming irritated, he overtook a caravan being pulled by a Mazda. Rehorst's erratic actions meant that a lorry on the opposite side of the carriageway – travelling north – had to stop to avoid a collision while the driver of the Mazda had to break sharply and pull onto a verge.
Having completed his first dangerous manoeuvre Rehorst was then positioned behind a mobile crane, which weighed 90 tonnes and was almost 19 metres in length.
Mr Rowland then described the horrific moments leading up to the fatal collision.
"The vehicle (Rehorst's HGV) climbed up towards a short section of road. It would appear that the lorry moved to the right without indication," he said.
He added: "A car came in to view travelling in the opposite direction. There was a collision with that vehicle. The force of the impact caused the car to flip around and leave the road. Mr Rehorst also left the road and ended in a ditch."
Injured Rehorst was arrested at the scene, to which he replied "Am I going to jail then?"
At today's hearing, Rehorst held his head in his hands for prolonged periods and sobbed throughout.
Robert Adams, defending, said: "They (the Gair's) have of cause suffered a truly tragic loss because of the behaviour of this man, Mr Rehorst.
"Mr Rehorst has shown genuine remorse. He has been going over this incident again and again and has not been able to come to terms with what has happened."
But Mr Adams said that he refuted Mr Rowland's claim that the incident came about because of Rehorst's extensive and deliberate bad driving.
He said that Rehorst did not appear to be breaking any other road rules in the area and did not set out to injure anybody.
Summing up, Judge Esmond Faulks, said: "At the time you (Rehorst) were behind that very large, slow-moving crane.
"Just before a left-hand turn you pulled out to overtake it. Because your vehicle was left-hand drive and because you had a huge vehicle infront of you, you would have had little or no vision of vehicles travelling north.
"It was under these circumstances that you came to be completely on the right hand side of the road and collided with the car that had Mr and Mrs Gair inside it.
"Mr Gair was killed outright while Mrs Gair suffered serious injuries including six fractured vertebra. She was incredibly lucky to have survived.
"This was a very dangerous piece of driving and it was made worse by the fact of your previous manoeuvre which didn't seem to have caused you concern."
Judge Faulks added: "You have shown genuine remorse and I have observed you weeping throughout this hearing.
"As your barrister said, no sentence that I pass will bring Mr Gair back."
After the hearing, Sgt Dave Clement, who led the investigation, said: "I would like to extend my sympathies to the close-knit family and the friends of Alan Gair who tragically lost his life in this crash. Alan has left behind his wife, three children and parents and they have suffered a terrible loss.
"I would like to thank all of those witnesses from around the country who came forward following a national press appeal.
"This was a complex, fast moving enquiry which was conducted to the highest standards.
"Judge Faulks has sent a clear message to anyone who drives on the roads in a dangerous manner, and who pay little attention to the laws of the roads or the safety of other road users. That message is that there will always be severe consequences for everyone involved.
"Klaas Rehorst carried out an overtaking manoeuvre on a single carriageway section of the A1 driving a left hand drive heavy goods vehicle with limited forward vision. As he did he collided with a Vauxhall Vectra travelling north being driven by Alan Gair. The vehicles collided causing the death of Alan Gair."
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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