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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 13:32 GMT
Jail for fatal crash text driver
Michael Smith
Smith sent a long text two minutes before the crash, the court heard
A sales executive who killed another motorist after sending text messages has been jailed for two years.

Just two minutes before the fatal crash Michael Smith, 43, from Pontypool, sent a 19-word text to his stepdaughter, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

Smith was overtaking in his Land Rover Discovery near Usk, when he hit an oncoming car, killing David Brown, 53.

He had been found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving but denied using his mobile before the crash.

Father-of-one Mr Brown died instantly in his Vauxhall Corsa in the crash on the A492 near Usk, Monmouthshire, in October 2005.

The court heard that Smith would have needed at least 176 metres of open road to overtake safely, but there was less than 63 metres.

Smith, who suffered minor injuries, was arrested and admitted making illegal calls and texts from his hand-held mobile.

All drivers must realise that this kind of behaviour will end up in a prison sentence.
Judge Phillip Richards

The prosecution had claimed Mr Smith sent and received five text messages as he drove along the A492 before the crash - including one of consolation to his stepdaughter over a bereavement she had suffered.

They said he received a reply from his stepdaughter as the accident happened.

Defending, Susan Ferrier said Smith's wife was expecting their second child and he was already father to a toddler and step-father to the daughter of his previous partner who had died "in tragic circumstances" just days before the crash.

Miss Ferrier said Smith had been "a rock" to his step-daughter since her mother's death.

Sentenced himself

She said he was genuinely remorseful for causing Mr Brown's death, but understood there was little he could do to ease their pain.

"He has, in fact, sentenced himself in many ways, living with the horrors of what happened as a result of his driving and the guilt he feels as a result of causing the loss of someone's life."

Prosecutor Martin Kelly told Cardiff Crown Court: "Smith was using his mobile phone on his journey that morning.

"He sent the long text message barely two minutes before the tragic fatal crash.

"His stepdaughter replied to the message at the very moment the fatal collision took place.

Far below

Mr Kelly said Smith tried to overtake in an "incredibly dangerous manoeuvre" when he crashed his 4x4 into the oncoming driver.

He was found guilty at a trial last November.

Sentencing Smith to two years and disqualifying him from driving for four years, Judge Phillip Richards said: "Your driving fell far below what would be expected of a careful and considerate driver.

The judge told Richards that he "decided to overtake when he needed much more road than you had, a fact compounded by your sending messages on your mobile phone prior to the accident.

"It had the result of killing a wholly innocent member of the public who was driving correctly on his side of the road.

"All drivers must realise that this kind of behaviour will end up in a prison sentence.

"The law requires drivers to be calm, considerate and patient to other road users. You displayed none of these qualities."


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