‘Your house will be your prison’ says judge giving pensioner suspended jail sentence for causing fatal A17 crash

Lincoln Crown Court.
Lincoln Crown Court.

A pensioner who admitted causing the death of a Nottinghamshire woman after falling asleep at the wheel on the A17 at Heckington was today (Tuesday) given a suspended jail sentence.

Marilyn Cook, 72, had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of causing the death by careless driving of Nottinghamshire woman Mary Marshall-Sheriff, 66.

Cook, of Scott Green Crescent, Gildersome, Leeds, was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for 18 months.

She was also banned from driving for three years

The charge followed a collision at Heckington between an Audi Q3 driven by Cook and Mrs Marshall-Sheriff’s car just before 6.30pm on August 9, 2018.

Lincoln Crown Court heard Cook was driving west when she crossed in to the opposite carriageway and collided nearly head-on with a car being driven by Mrs Marshall-Sheriff who was driving from her Nottinghamshire home to visit her partner at a caravan in Skegness.

Phil Howes, prosecuting, said the only viable option was that Cook fell asleep as she followed her own husband’s camper van as they returned to West Yorkshire.

Mr Howes told the court: “The deceased’s car had no time to take avoiding action.”

Mrs Marshall-Sheriff died at the scene after suffering multiple injuries and Mrs Cook was taken to the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham with life changing injuries after being cut from her own car.

During interview, Cook could provide no explanation for the collision but said she felt “dreadful” for the victim and her family, the court heard.

One witness described seeing a swerve from Cook’s car a mile and a half before the collision where she narrowly avoided a lorry parked in a lay-by.

A victim impact statement revealed the death of Mary Marshall-Sheriff had a “devastating” impact on her partner and grandchildren.

The court heard Cook had no previous convictions and was remorseful, thinking about the collision every day and night.

In mitigation the court was told Cook could not recall feeling tired and had stopped during her journey.

Passing sentence Judge Stephen Coupland told Cook the most likely explanation for the collision was that she fell asleep.

“This case is a terrible reminder to anyone who uses the roads that tiredness kills,” Judge Coupland said.

But the judge added he did not think it was in the public interest to jail her.

“The knowledge of what you did will be your punishment. Your house will be your prison,” the judge said.