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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 June 2007, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Sleep driver cleared over death
Andrew Drage
Andrew Drage had always denied the more serious charge
A man who fell asleep at the wheel of a car before a crash in which a motorcyclist died has been cleared of causing death by dangerous driving.

Andrew Drage, of Skewen, near Neath, was on his way to join his family at a Pembrokeshire caravan in July 2006 when he crashed, killing Raymond Freeman.

Drage was convicted of careless driving and fined 700 and banned from driving for a year at Swansea Crown Court.

Mr Freeman's widow Alexandra said the verdict "provides no justice".

During the trial, the jury heard Drage, who calibrates computer controlled tools, worked shifts of up to 14 hours so he could leave work at lunchtime on Thursday, 27 July, to join his wife and two children at a caravan in Saundersfoot.

He will have to live with the knowledge that his decision not to stop resulted in my husband's death
Raymond Freeman's widow, Alexandra

Patrick Griffiths, prosecuting, said he had overworked "selfishly" so he could get away early.

Drage, 45, admitted to police that five minutes before the crash his body "jumped" as he felt himself nodding off.

Near Kilgetty on the A477, he fell asleep and his BMW veered to the far side of the road into oncoming traffic, knocking Mr Freeman, 58, off his motorbike.

Drage told the court he did not wake up until after he had hit Mr Freeman.

He was acquitted of causing death by dangerous driving, but found guilty of the lesser charge of careless driving.

His barrister, Tom Crowther, said Drage had always been willing to plead guilty to that offence but the prosecution had insisted on a trial on the more serious charge.

'No justice'

Mr Freeman, from Meidrim, near Carmarthen, flew planes for British Airways before retiring at the age of 55.

Reacting to the verdict, his widow, Alexandra, said: "Andrew Drage drove when he was so tired he fell asleep at the wheel. He could have stopped but chose not to.

"He will have to live with the knowledge that his decision not to stop resulted in my husband's death.

"The verdict provides no justice. It cannot be right that an innocent man's life is taken away and the court imposes only a fine."

Judge Christoper Vosper said a ban and a financial penalty were all that were open to him for an offence of careless driving.

Judge Vosper said he appreciated that Mr Freeman's family would view the penalties as inadequate, but no punishment could make up for their loss.


SEE ALSO
Death crash driver 'fell asleep'
04 Jun 07 |  South West Wales

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