Trucker jailed after leaving moped rider paralysed

Paul Digby, of Coppice Road, Highfields, Doncaster admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Paul Digby, of Coppice Road, Highfields, Doncaster admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
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A moped rider was left paralysed after his bike collided with a trucker’s lorry at a South Yorkshire crossroads.

Lorry driver Paul Digby, aged 46, who has been jailed after the incident, pulled out in his seven-and-a-half tonne DAF into the path of Roy Copley who had the right of way.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Digby was running late in picking up a workmate after problems with his young son at home.

He told officers he recognised the accident was his fault and he should have taken more time to check.

Digby, of Coppice Road, Highfields, Doncaster, admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Moped rider Mr Copley, 56, from Barnsley, has been left with severe spinal injuries and is paralysed from the neck down.

He now relies on carers and his wife to look after him 24 hours a day and is unable to feed himself.

His social life has been ruined and he can no longer go fishing or play with his pet dog. His wife herself needs care as she suffers from anxiety.

“This has not just changed my life but that of my family,” said Mr Copley in a statement read in court. “I’m now helpless.”

Neil Coxon, prosecuting, said the accident happened at 8.10am on Saturday, October 3 as Mr Copley was travelling on Thicket Lane, Worsbrough Dale, Barnsley.

Digby, who was trying to cross over from High Street to Station Road, told police he had not seen the moped until the collision occurred.

He believed he had slowed down and come to a stop at the crossroads but accident investigators showed he slowed to 12 mph then was accelerating at about 18 mph at the point of impact.

Witnesses said the trucker failed to stop and reports showed he would also have had a view of the approaching moped from 150 metres away.

Digby later said he was driving down High Street and had looked round at the junction and saw the road was clear before pulling out. He had not previously seen the bike.

Richard Davies, defending, said medical reports revealed there was no indication of any improvement in Mr Copley’s condition in the medium to long term.

Digby was devastated at what he he had done and was “very remorseful”. He said: “He was having a difficult day.”

His partner had just had an operation and was looking after their son who was 12 months old at the time. She was having difficulties and he returned home to help.

This meant he was late in picking up a workmate when the accident happened. “He has gone over it every day since and is extremely traumatised bit it,” said Mr Davies.

He had served in the Army for eight years and was then a reservist and has suffered flashbacks and is on medication for depression.

His son was now 18 months old and his wife is due to give birth to their second son in September. His wife had trouble walking with a hip problem and he provided consderable to support to her and their child.

“He said to me if he could swap places with the victim he would,” said Mr Davies. “He is devastated at what he has done.”

The judge Recorder John Thackray said: “This is very obviously a tragic case. Mr Copley has had life changing injuries and no sentence that I can impose can in any way compensate or measure the harm caused to Mr Copley.”

He said the victim was “completely blameless” and could easily have been seen by the lorry driver. He told Digby: “Had you slowed you would have seen him. He was there to be seen.”

He added: “You were driving at excessive speed for the cirumstances of approaching the junction and at the time failing to keep a proper lookout and for that reason it is dangerous driving.”

The judge accepted he was a hard-working family man who was genuinely remorseful. “I accept it has had a massive impact on you but that pales into insignificance with the impact on Mr Copley,” he said.

Digby was jailed for 16 months, banned from driving for two years and he will have to take an extended test to regain his licence.