Death crash case lorry driver withdraws guilty plea after court ruling

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A LORRY driver who admitted causing the death of another motorist has withdrawn his guilty plea after a ruling by the highest court in the land.

David Bate, 42, of Dene View Crescent, South Hylton, Sunderland, admitted causing a death while driving while disqualified.

Durham Crown Court heard there is no criticism of Bate’s standard of driving in the fatal collision in November, 2009.

Prosecutor Stuart Graham said the Supreme Court had since ruled there must be some element of bad driving for a defendant to be guilty of the charge.

“The driving need not be careless,” added Mr Graham. “It might just be speeding.

“But there is no bad driving in this case.

“This matter has been considered at the highest level in the CPS.

“We will not oppose any application for the defendant to withdraw his plea.”

Mr Graham said the accident happened when Ross Paterson, 30, tried to overtake three vehicles in his Renault Kangoo van on the A181 at Running Waters, south of Durham City.

“He managed to pass two,” Mr Graham told the court. “But he collided head on with the defendant’s lorry as he tried to pass the third.

“The tachograph in the defendant’s lorry indicated he was not speeding, and there is some evidence he swerved to the nearside to try to avoid the collision.”

Police investigations found Bate was using a false licence and was disqualified from driving at the time.

Bate admitted fraud, using a licence he knew to be false, and driving while disqualified.

The Recorder, Mr Ian Atherton, allowed Bate to withdraw his earlier plea to causing death while a disqualified driver.

Jamie Adams, defending, said: “Since the accident he has obtained a legal licence and also his permit to drive a taxi.

“He is in driving work and there has been no further offending, so he has really turned his life around.”

Recorder Atherton adjourned passing sentence until Friday, October 4, to enable the Crown Prosecution Service to inform Mr Paterson’s family of the progress of the case, and to give the family the opportunity to attend the next hearing.

Bate was released on unconditional bail.

Mr Paterson, who was from Glasgow, was taken to hospital in Durham, before being transferred to Newcastle General.

He died 10 days after the smash.