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Speeding van driver sentenced over fatal collision

A Markfield man who had cannabis in his system and was sending text messages while driving before a fatal collision has been sentenced to six years in prison and disqualified from driving.

Aidan Lee had also been driving his white Ford Transit van at 90mph along Pilham Lane, towards Corringham, 40mph above the limit for his class of vehicle, before the incident.

Leicester Time: Speeding van driver sentenced over fatal collision
Picture: Lincolnshire Police

He collided with a Mini Cooper driven by 57-year-old Stephen Sowerby, just before 3.14pm on Wednesday, 1 March, last year. Sadly, Mr Sowerby died as a result of his injuries.

His family said after the sentencing earlier this week: “No sentence given will reflect the loss of Steve, a devoted family man and a respected work colleague.

“Words cannot sum up the devastation and grief caused by the selfish actions of another.

“Steve did not deserve to have his life so needlessly taken away, he deserved to live.”

Stephen Sowerby, from Scunthorpe had been driving on Mill Mere Road travelling from Corringham and was turning right towards Pilham. 

Aidan Lee, of Whitcrofts Lane, Ulverscroft, Markfield, Leicestershire was driving along Pilham Lane towards Corringham.  He was driving a white Ford Transit van with a passenger, a man in his 20s.  They did not suffer any serious injuries.

Lee was arrested and interviewed following the collision. During the investigation it was established that shortly before the crash, he was driving his Transit van at 90 mph, 40 mph above the speed limit for his class of vehicle on Pilham Lane which is restricted to 50 mph. 

Following a roadside drug test and a further analysis of a blood sample provided, it was found he had cannabis in his system which was over the legal limit for driving.  He told Interviewing Officers he had smoked three to four joints of cannabis some 72 hours prior to the collision and had not used cannabis since that time.

His mobile phone showed he had been sending messages while he was driving too.

Stephen Sowerby drove his Mini Cooper out of the junction of Mill Mere Road, turning right in the direction of Pilham when the Ford Transit hit his vehicle. 

The investigation revealed that had Lee been travelling at 50mph, it would have been theoretically possible for him to bring the Ford Transit to a full stop and avoid the collision.  

Detective Sergeant Emma Ward, Lead Investigating Officer, Lincolnshire Police, said: “The speeds driven by Aiden Lee were excessive and dangerous.  This was a country road and there is no excuse for driving so fast; there never is an excuse for speeding. 

“His driving was impaired through cannabis use and the use of his mobile phone, all of which are well documented to change how a driver reacts to events on the road.

“These three things, driving at excessive speed, driving following drug use and also using his mobile phone are irresponsible decisions made by the driver Lee and has resulted in the death of a loved and respected 57-year-old man.

“Our thoughts are with his family.”

Lee was sentenced to six year in prison and disqualified for five years on his release; he must pass an extended retest.