A COUNCIL binman has been jailed for reversing over a shopper and causing her death.
Gavin Spoors said he moved his flatbed truck back along the street because of warnings about parking near a zebra crossing.
The 24-year-old, from Newbottle, told Durham Crown Court he looked in his mirrors and thought he had given two pedestrians who walked behind enough time to clear.
But Judge Christopher Price said he was lying and trying to lessen his blame for the incident in Chester-le-Street, which led to the death of care home worker Allison Rodger.
CCTV footage from a bus showed she crossed away from the crossing behind the truck, which clipped her as she stepped on to the kerb.
Spoors, who worked for Durham County Council until his dismissal last month because of the case, was jailed for 16 months yesterday.
Afterwards, Miss Rodger’s family spoke about Spoors’ sentence.
Nicola Burnip, one of her six siblings, said: “One night in prison away from his family and he can maybe know how we feel every day when we get up and Allison isn’t here.
“We didn’t want him to go to prison because we know Allison wouldn’t want it, but I hope he thinks about what he has done.
“She was so special to everybody, everyone adored her.”
Allison, who worked at St Mary’s care home in Chester-le-Street and lived in Great Lumley, loved dancing, shopping and nights out at the village snooker hall, but was most passionate about her family.
The incident happened on May 19 last year as Spoors, of Cathedral View, and colleague Gary McKitten emptied the bins.
Witness Judith Hubble saw Spoors speak to his workmate and put his head down before reversing the truck, and did not recall him checking his mirrors.
Pc Michael Baxter, who investigated the incident, said Spoors would have seen Miss Rodgers appear in the passenger side mirror for a moment, had he checked.
Parts of a training guide from the council were read out in court which detailed protocol when reversing, which including being directed by others when unable to check around the vehicle.
Mr McKitten, who is not a trained banksman – also known as a reversing assistant – said Spoors checked his mirrors and hesitated before moving back, but wonders each day why the vehicle was reversed at all.
Spoors had admitted death by careless driving. In a probation report prepared for a previous sentencing hearing, he claimed he had checked his mirrors.
But Judge Prince did not believe that and held a trial of issue.
He added a two-year driving ban to the custodial sentence.
The judge said: “If you had looked for just two or three seconds, she would be alive today.
“That was not just a momentary inattention, that was a deliberate decision.”
Oliver Sherratt, Durham County Council’s head of direct services, said: “First and foremost, our thoughts are with Allison Rodgers’ friends and family at this difficult time.
“Following this tragic accident we have fully co-operated with the police and the Health and Safety Executive in the course of their investigations.
“We have also carried out our own internal investigation, and as a result have now changed our working practices.
“We can confirm that Gavin Spoors’ employment with the county council was terminated following a disciplinary hearing. This decision is subject to appeal.”