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Wem driver jailed after after motorcyclist lost leg in A49 crash

By Sophie Madden | Wem | Crime | Published:

A driver, who crashed into a motorcyclist leaving him with life-changing leg injuries, has been jailed for 18 months.

Stephen Singh

Victim, Deon Zwanepoel, was airlifted to Stoke Hospital after the collision on the A49 but surgeons were unable to save the lower part of his right leg after it was crushed, and he had the lower part of the limb amputated.

Motorist Stephen Singh admitted being responsible for the crash on the afternoon of October 4 last year and driving carelessly but denied causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

He was, however, convicted by a jury after just 45 minutes and was yesterday jailed and banned from the road for three years and nine months.

Sentencing 28-year-old Singh, Judge Andrew Menary, QC, said that he had given “anxious consideration” to whether he could suspend the sentence but had decided “anything less than an immediate custodial sentence would fall short of appropriate punishment.”

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the accident happened near Bickley when Singh, of Cordwell Park, Wem, overtook a bin lorry which had pulled out in front of him from Snab Lane but some distance ahead.

58-year-old Deon Zwanepoel was coming the opposite way, having just negotiated a slight bend, while out for a spin on his bright orange Kawasaki motor bike and was heading towards Whitchurch - a route he had ridden many times - when he was struck.

The bin lorry driver said he had only been on the road a few seconds before Singh’s VW Passat overtook him and caught the motorbike a glancing blow.

Both drivers stopped and ran back to the injured man, who had been thrown from his machine. As well as the serious right foot injury he had also suffered a fractures to his left knee and left thumb and his right thumb was damaged, said Zia Chaudhry, prosecuting.

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In an impact statement, Mr Zwanepoel told how his left leg, which underwent various operations to insert metalwork, tires easily and he cannot go out unaided and no longer on the spur of the moment.

Mr Chaudhry said: “He can no longer participate in his hobby of motorcycling and used to go out as often as he could but now only sees people who come to his home.”

He cannot get to work unaided and fears that his permanently dislocated and aching shoulder may impact on him at work using a computer."

Judge Menary said that the direct result of Singh pulling out directly into the path of the victim was that “he suffered very severe and life changing injuries.”

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He said that despite white arrows indicating a hazard “you failed to check the road properly and assumed the road was clear. Cameras on the bin lorry showed the motorcyclist was adjacent to the lorry when you decided to overtake.

“The footage showed you barely paused behind the lorry before attempting the manoeuvre. You cannot have carried out any checks at all.

“The only sensible conclusion is that you, being frustrated by the presence of the lorry, decided it was not going to slow your progress and given the circumstances it was your driving that created a significant risk of danger.”

Judge Menary said that the disabled victim continues to suffer loss of amenities and pointed out, “This man could have been killed by your manoeuvre.”

He said he had read medical and psychological reports on Singh and was aware that in 2008 he had “suffered an episode” while out running which led to lack of oxygen to his brain causing some cognitive impairment affecting his mood and short term memory.

The judge added that he accepted he was sorry but said, “It is unfortunate that even now you are having some difficulty accepting your driving was obviously dangerous.”

While Singh had strong personal mitigation it was not strong enough to enable him to suspend the prison sentence, he said.

Marc Le Brocq, defending, had told the court that Singh, who has no previous convictions is “extremely sorry for what he has done.”

He had not been exceeding the speed limit and had admitted driving carelessly. “It was a one off accident.”

Mr Le Brocq said that after the cardiac arrest Singh, who drives heavy plant machines, had suffered he has to have a defibrillator with him at all times and he will be vulnerable in prison.

He had had his driving licence suspended for six months on medical grounds but that period had expired by the time of the crash, he added.

Sophie Madden

By Sophie Madden
@SMadden_Star

Senior reporter based out of the head office in Ketley covering the Telford area.

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