A TURKISH lorry driver has been jailed for his part in a crash which killed a retired South Yorkshire couple during a holiday in Cyprus nearly three years ago.
The man admitted he was driving his chicken food truck too fast when it hit a four-wheel drive vehicle being driven by Armthorpe woman Jean Barton as it emerged from a junction onto a main road in Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus.
Mrs Barton, aged 71, and her husband, Derrick, 67, a retired lorry driver, both suffered multiple injuries and died soon afterwards.
The crash happened in October 2008 - but it wasn’t until yesterday that Doncaster Deputy Coroner Fred Curtis was able to complete the inquest into the deaths of the couple, who spent long periods on the holiday island in their retirement.
Mr Curtis said there had been difficulties and delays in obtaining information from the Turkish authorities and he had only just received information about court proceedings against the 40-year-old lorry driver, Mustafa Ozturk.
He was convicted of reckless driving and was given a nine months’ prison term, which was later reduced to four months on appeal.
Asked to comment after the inquest, Mr and Mrs Barton’s family would say only: “Four months for two lives.”
The collision occurred in Northern Cyprus on October 30, 2008, when Mrs Barton was driving their Toyota RAV-4, which they owned because they spent months at a time on the island.
In statements received from Northern Cyprus via the Foreign Office, Mr Curtis was told there were no witnesses to the actual collision.
An investigating officer, Insp Adnan Verkay, indicated that the Toyota emerged onto the main road from the right without stopping.
“The driver was proceeding carelessly and negligently by not giving right of way to vehicles on the main road and collided with a MAN truck which was being driven in excess of the 75kmph speed limit,” said Insp Verkay.
The truck driver was arrested and admitted he was driving too fast.
The right-hand drive Toyota was hit on the left hand side and Mr and Mrs Barton, of Thornham Close, Armthorpe, both died after suffering severe chest injuries and loss of blood.
Mr Curtis said it was impossible to make a criticism of Mrs Barton’s driving because he had no evidence from witnesses or a statement from Mr Ozturk, so “there is no evidence of what she did or didn’t do”.
“We do know the other driver was driving at excessive speed and he had to brake very heavily and collided with the jeep and shunted it for some distance.”
Mr Curtis said the lack of evidence caused him to record narrative verdicts that Mr and Mrs Barton died when their vehicle was struck by a lorry travelling at a fast speed in excess of the limit as they were crossing the main road.
The coroner said he also deplored the fact that autopsies had been carried out on the couple in both Northern and Southern Cyprus, which he believed reflected the political situation on the island which has been divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974.