Driver jailed for holidaymaker death

A young man was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving of a pensioner holidaymaker.

Lee Sherratt, 28, of Queen Elizabeth Drive, Paignton, admitted causing the death of Mrs Tegwen Ellis, 75, after he hit her with his car on 31 August 2006. In the collision on Belgrave Road, Torquay, Mrs Ellis’ husband Frank, 76, was also hit, sustaining severe injuries .

Sherratt, who was also banned from driving for five years at Exeter Crown Court, failed to see the elderly couple when driving his BMW convertible and struck them both.

Mr and Mrs Ellis, of Porset Drive, Caerphilly, were just two days into a five day break at the Derwent Hotel in Torquay. They had just enjoyed a game of bingo in their hotel and were out for an evening stroll when they were hit outside the Rainbow Hotel. They were both taken to Torbay District Hospital, where Mrs Ellis was pronounced dead.

Crown Prosecutor, Richard Crabb told Exeter Crown Court that Sherratt had been driving between 29 and 35mph when he hit the couple with his BMW that he had owned for just two months. A police crash expert told the court that the couple must have been crossing the road for 10.8 seconds and that Sherratt should have seen them for 145m, giving him ample time to see the couple and stop.

Sherratt maintained in court that he did not see Mrs Ellis and her husband until he hit them.

Judge Graham Cottle told Sherratt: “You are entitled to significant credit for your guilty plea, but this is an extremely difficult sentencing exercise.” He said that no sentence could compensate those who had lost a loved one, but that no excess speed had been involved and that he failed to see the couple was the “only explanation”, which “sets the level of your culpability”.

The judge also said that it was a sentence that some might see as “woefully inadequate”.

Mr and Mrs Ellis’ grieving son Robert who attended the hearing was furious with the sentence. He said about Sherratt: “I hope he suffers for the rest of his days.”

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