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Last Updated: Friday, 3 September, 2004, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Man jailed for mobile phone death
Alan ilbanke
Milbanke was on the phone for two minutes before the crash
A van driver who killed a pensioner while using his mobile phone has been jailed for three years.

Delivery driver Alan Milbanke, 32, of North Tyneside, had earlier admitted causing death by dangerous driving.

Milbanke's van smashed into the lorry of County Durham man Derek Davies, 68, Newcastle Crown Court was told.

"I am sure Mr Davies' family will have a lifetime suffering from knowing what happened," Judge Michael Cartlidge said as he passed sentence.

"Nothing I can do can bring Mr Davies back."

It might not stop everyone, but it might make some think twice
Jill Davies

Milbanke, a father of two young children, was also banned from driving for four years.

Milbanke, from Point Pleasant Terrace, Wallsend, had been heading back to his depot when the accident happened on the B6278 in Northumberland last April.

He was talking on his mobile phone while driving his white Mercedes Sprinter van at about 50mph. Mr Davies, a retired horse groom, was driving a Vauxhall Brava pick-up.

Milbanke lost control of the van, which went on to the wrong side of the road and crashed head-on with the pick-up.

Mr Davies died almost instantly in the crash, the court was told.

Mobile records

The defendant suffered head injuries and an arm injury and says he has no memory of the crash.

Mobile phone records checked by the police showed Milbanke had been talking for about two minutes in the lead-up to the accident.

The man at the other end of the conversation told police that as he and Milbanke talked, the line suddenly went dead - just 19 seconds before the fatal impact.

Mr Davies' widow, Jill, of Shotley Bridge, County Durham, said earlier: "I hope that a custodial sentence will serve as a warning to other drivers.

"It might not stop everyone, but it might make some think twice.

"My husband was a very careful driver and to just suddenly have him taken away is terrible; it's very hard to come to terms with."

Last December, a new offence of using a mobile phone while driving came into force.

Phone man faces jail over death
28 Jun 04  |  Tyne/Wear

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