Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 12:47 UK

Jail warning after driver cleared

Kenneth and Daisy Davies
Kenneth and Daisy Davies were on their way to see a relative when they died in the collision

The family of a couple killed in a crash say they are upset that a lorry driver has been acquitted of causing their deaths by dangerous driving.

Istvan Kotorman, 48, of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, admitted the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving and has been warned to expect jail.

Kenneth Davies, 79, and Daisy Davies, 77, of Powys, died in April last year.

Dyfed-Powys Police said the couple's relatives were "very unhappy" with the jury's verdict at Mold Crown Court.

Kotorman, a Hungarian who has more than 20 years' lorry driving experience and no previous convictions, told the court he did not see the Welshpool pensioners' car when he turned right.

The jury heard that he was wearing sunglasses and he had gone from an area which was bright and sunny to a cloudy location and his eyes had needed time to adjust.

Istvan Kotorman
I looked if anything was coming.. I could not see anything and slowly turned
Istvan Kotorman's evidence to the court

From the outset of the case he accepted that he was responsible for the couple's death, the court heard.

Speaking on behalf of the couple's family, police family liaison officer Pc Suzanne Duncan said: "The family are very unhappy with today's verdict, but are too distressed to speak at the moment.

"They may issue a statement after Mr Kotorman is sentenced."

Mr and Mrs Davies were travelling to visit a relative when their car was involved in the collision on 8 April, 2008 at a junction close to the village of Llandrinio on the Powys-Shropshire border.

Kotorman, who moved to the UK to work and to start life afresh after a relationship ended, had been driving his tipper lorry used to carry road surface material from a local quarry.

Braked sharply

He told the court that he had travelled that road hundreds of times and that morning had made deliveries to Walsall and Chester.

He was travelling very slowly, about five or 10 mph (5-16 kph), and as he approached the junction he saw two lorries ahead of him turn right.

He said he had indicated to turn right and went into the middle filter lane. He saw nothing ahead and turned. As he was turning it became cloudy.

If he had seen the car then he could have stopped, he said.

"I looked if anything was coming. I could not see anything and slowly turned," he told the court.

He said the first time he saw the car was when they crashed. He felt the collision first and then saw the car.

The court heard that the couple died of their injuries. Mr Davies had braked sharply but had no chance and crashed into the front of the vehicle.

John Wyn Williams, prosecuting, had argued that the defendant "quite simply cut across their path".

He told the court: "The prosecution say that when you look at the driving, the prevailing conditions at the time, the lay-out of the road, there can be only one conclusion, that the manoeuvre that the defendant took on that fateful morning was indeed dangerous."

'Custodial sentence'

Mark Roberts, defending, said, it was careless or inconsiderate driving - a momentary lapse and a mistake anyone could have made.

Judge John Rogers QC had previously said at a pre-trial review that he believed that causing death by careless driving was the appropriate charge in the case.

After the jury had returned a unanimous verdict, following a half-hour deliberation, he said: "I expressed views which accord with the decisions you have made some time ago in this case.

"But the CPS very properly decided that it could be determined by a jury. That is why you tried it."

He told Mr Roberts that a custodial sentence for his client was almost inevitable.

However, he said that the gravity of causing death by dangerous driving with a maximum 14-year sentence was very different to causing death by careless driving, which had a maximum of five years.

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