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Death driver shown mercy
A LORRY driver who killed a cyclist in a “terrible accident” has been spared jail, thanks to a plea from his victim’s parents.
Pensioner Stephen Bateman had admitted causing the death of Oxford church rector’s assistant Joanna Braithwaite by careless driving in an incident last year.
But her mother and father wrote a letter to the judge before the 75-year-old was sentenced at Oxford Crown Court yesterday.
Recorder Harold Persaud, sentencing, told Bateman: “There is something that has impressed me greatly in this case and that is the generosity Mr and Mrs Braithwaite have shown towards you.
“They have said they do not seek retribution. They have also recognised how this has affected you.
“They are aware nothing I do will bring back their daughter.”
Miss Braithwaite, 34, was killed on the morning of October 28 last year when she was run over by Bateman’s cement mixer, which was carrying 13 tonnes of cement.
He had missed a turning to a Woodstock Road building site and was turning around at the Polstead Road junction when the accident happened.
Miss Braithwaite was pronounced dead at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital at about 10am after suffering multiple crush injuries.
The maximum sentence for the charge is five years, but Bateman was given an eight-month term, suspended for a year.
Recorder Persaud also took into account Bateman’s clean record and that he was the only carer of his partner who recently had a major operation.
The court heard Bateman – who had driven lorries for 43 years – had told police he had driven “two million miles” without an accident.
Miss Braithwaite, of Bullingdon Road, worked for St Aldate’s Church as a personal assistant to the Rev Charlie Cleverly.
Speaking outside court, her parents Paul and Charlotte Braithwaite, both 61, said: “There is no way to express in words our sadness at the death of our daughter Joanna, she was full of joy and hope, and our world is a darker place without her.
“Mr Bateman has pleaded guilty to making a less than careful manoeuvre which resulted in the death of our daughter.
“We are and have always been quite certain that he in no way intended to hurt her in any way, and so we bear no personal grudge towards him.
“We see no purpose in a man of his age being given a custodial sentence.”
They thanked family, friends, the church, police, and the prosecution, and also made a plea for all drivers and cyclists to take care.
Last night, Mr Cleverly said: “It says everything about their generosity and maturity. They are an example to us all.”
He added: “It was a terrible accident frankly. Justice has been done.”
He said Miss Braithwaite was missed “terribly” by the church and congregation.
Charles Ward-Jackson, prosecuting, said the lorry’s rear wheels had caused the fatal injury.
He said Bateman should have seen Miss Braithwaite as his lorry had three mirrors on the left side of cab and a camera on the back.
He added: “There was no blind spot at all.”
Hugh Williams, defending, said: “It (the accident) had the most tragic consequences, but also one with the lowest culpabilities.”
Bateman, of Astrop Road, Middleton Cheney, was banned from driving for three years and will have to take a test before getting behind the wheel again.
He was ordered to do 240 hours of unpaid community work and pay £400 costs.