Newbottle death driver fails to get less time in prison

Victim Allison Rodger

Victim Allison Rodger

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THE family of a care home worker tragically killed when she was hit by a council rubbish van have expressed their relief after the driver failed to win a cut to his jail term.

Durham County Council worker Gavin Simon Martin Spoors, 25, of Cathedral View, Newbottle, was jailed for 16 months at Durham Crown Court in August after he admitted causing the death of Allison Rodger by careless driving.

Now, after his case for a lighter sentence was rejected by judges at London’s Court of Appeal, Miss Rodger’s family said she can finally rest in peace.

Judge Peter Jacobs QC told the court that care worker Miss Rodger, 44, was crossing Front Street, in Chester-le-Street, in May last year when Spoors reversed his flatbed Ford Transit van into her.

A witness testified that Spoors, who was collecting rubbish from bins in the street, was talking to a colleague in the passenger seat at the time and had not checked his mirror before reversing, the court heard.

Miss Rodger was struck by the back of the truck and died from her injuries.

David Comb, for Spoors, claimed Miss Rodger contributed to the accident by not crossing at a nearby pedestrian crossing, and walking at a “slower than average” pace.

He said Spoors’ sentence was too long considering the judge had accepted that Miss Rodger was of short stature, making it more difficult for the driver to see her.

But Judge Jacobs, sitting with Lord Justice Jackson and Mr Justice Eady, rejected the appeal.

He said: “We have difficulty with the submissions in the light of the judge’s findings that the appellant was reversing his Transit on a busy street and, as the judge stated, that he elected not to check his mirror carefully and was talking to the passenger as he reversed.

“There is nothing wrong in principle with the sentence of 16 months’ imprisonment and this appeal is dismissed.”

Spoors, who sat in the dock with his head down and cried as the details of the accident were read out, will be eligible for automatic release after eight months in jail.

Speaking outside court, Miss Rodger’s youngest sister, Nicola Burnip, said: “We thought it was all over and we were finally starting to rebuild our lives, then we heard this appeal was happening and it dragged it all up again.

“We just wanted him to show some remorse to our family, and hopefully now he will sit there and think about what he has done. We are relieved with the outcome and feel justice has been done, meaning Ali can now rest in peace.”

The family phoned friends in Miss Rodger’s home village of Great Lumley, where they said a number of residents were anxious to hear the outcome.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham