Selsey driver jailed after Sidlesham tractor crash

The scene of the accident in 2012. Picture by Eddie Mitchell
The scene of the accident in 2012. Picture by Eddie Mitchell
  • Tractor driver Gary Gosnell was jailed for 18 months
  • His trailer load of hay toppled over and killed 70-year-old Portsmouth driver William Daish
  • Gosnell was jailed for causing death by careless driving on the B2145 at Sidlesham
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A TRACTOR driver was jailed after his straw-filled trailer toppled over, crushing an oncoming car.

Gary Gosnell, 28, of Blackberry Lane, Selsey, was jailed for 18 months at Chichester Crown Court on Monday (March 30).

Gary Gosnell, appearing at Chichester Crown Court on March 30, 2015. PICTURE BY EDDIE MITCHELL

Gary Gosnell, appearing at Chichester Crown Court on March 30, 2015. PICTURE BY EDDIE MITCHELL

He pleaded guilty to causing the death of 70-year-old William Daish, known as Mick, by careless driving and for not having the correct driving licence.

Judge Christopher Parker QC spoke of the ‘inestimable grief’ felt by Mr Daish’s family after the tragedy on September 28, 2012, on the B2145, in Sidlesham.

“The cause of the accident was your excessive speed,” he told Gosnell.

“You were driving too fast for your vehicle, your load, the traffic conditions and the layout of the road that you knew well.”

I need no persuading of the tragedy that’s occurred here for everybody

Judge Christopher Parker QC

Witnesses reported Gosnell pulled quickly onto the B2145 from Keynor Lane in his New Holland tractor, behind a similar one driven by farmer Ashley Strange.

The pair were taking straw to a farm in the Pulborough area and the court heard Gosnell did not know the way, meaning he did not want any vehicle getting between them.

Witnesses reported there was barely any distance between the tractors.

One said they were going around 35mph, which he felt was ‘too fast, bearing in mind the size of their load’.

“You did that for your own need and without consideration of the risks that might be occasioned to other road users,” Judge Parker told Gosnell. “It was a persistent case of bad driving to achieve your own ends and it fell not very far short of being dangerous driving in law.”

When the pair reached the sharp corner at Sidlesham known locally as the Anchor bend, Gosnell’s nearside trailer wheels lifted off the ground and his trailer toppled onto the other side of the road, spilling its load onto Mr Daish’s oncoming Alfa Romeo.

The 70-year-old was from Portsmouth and his family submitted a number of letters to the judge detailing the pain and anguish the tragedy caused.

“The inestimable grief is evident from within them,” said Judge Parker. “I need no persuading of the tragedy that’s occurred here for everybody.”

Following the crash, Gosnell was overheard saying ‘I think I’ve killed somebody’ as he frantically tried to pull the straw away.

“He was wailing and collapsed and sat on the wheel rim of his tractor,” prosecutor Alexander Williams told the court. “He was sobbing with his head in his hands.”

Despite investigators finding the trailer drawbar had not been in a good condition and snapped, evidence still showed it was Gosnell’s driving that caused it to snap at that moment in time.

“This accident wasn’t caused by machinery failure. This accident was caused by you driving carelessly, if not recklessly,” said Judge Parker.

Gosnell received an 18-month jail term for causing death by careless driving and four months for not having the correct driving licence. He will 
serve the sentences concurrently.

Ashley Strange, 29, of Hundredsteddle Lane, Birdham, who was driving the first tractor, pleaded guilty at Worthing Magistrates’ Court in September to three charges relating to maintenance of the breaking system of the tractor and trailer and was handed a fine of £6,000.