Killer tram driver walks away from Sheffield Crown Court with suspended sentence
“In the space of 10 seconds you have ruined the lives of many people,” a judge told a Sheffield tram driver who admitted to killing a pedestrian through careless driving.
81-year-old Saleh Qassim Saleh suffered fatal injuries when he was hit by a Stagecoach Supertram as he was using the pedestrian crossing at the Woodbourn Road tram stop in Attercliffe.
Julie Turner, 55, was driving the tram at the time of the collision, and failed to spot Mr Saleh as he approached the crossing, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
Turner failed to look ahead because she was checking the vehicle’s mirrors instead, after receiving training from Stagecoach about the potential dangers of not making the necessary observations before moving off.
“Your over-attention to the use of mirrors meant you weren’t concentrating on the other aspects of driving a tram,” The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, told Turner.
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Mr Saleh was rushed to hospital after the collision on December 22, 2016 but died of his injuries the following morning.
Judge Richardson said: “In the space of 10 seconds you have ruined the lives of many people. 10 seconds, that’s all it took...you killed Mr Saleh by your careless driving. You have ruined the lives of his widow and family, and you have also ruined your own life.”
An investigation into the crash was carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, who determined that an ‘underlying cause was that Stagecoach Supertram had not assessed the risk of trams in service running non-stop through tram stops when it first introduced the system of request stops around 1999’.
Stagecoach introduced audible warnings for all non-stop movements through tram stops in January 2017 – one month after the accident.
Turner, of Acre Gate, High Green, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at an earlier hearing.
Richard Woolfall, defending, said Turner had driven for Supertram ‘carefully and without incident’ for 24 years.
Hers was a guilty plea that carries with it genuine remorse,” said Mr Woolfall.
He added: “She doesn’t sleep well and will live with what she has done for the rest of her life.”
Judge Richardson said he had every reason to believe that Turner was ‘ordinarily a proficient and careful driver’ and said he could step away from a sentence of immediate imprisonment.
He sentenced her to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and banned her from driving for 12 months.
“I wish to emphasise that the level of sentence in no way reflects the value of the life of Mr Saleh, his life was worth much more than that, but you must be punished in accordance with the sentencing guidelines for crimes of this nature,” added Judge Richardson.