Inkersall van driver killed 61-year-old pedestrian in Eckington after speeding through traffic lights

Pictured is Derek Talbot-Smith, 50, of Westfield Southway, Sheffield, who has been sentenced to three years of custody after he admitted causing death by dangerous driving in Eckington.
Pictured is Derek Talbot-Smith, 50, of Westfield Southway, Sheffield, who has been sentenced to three years of custody after he admitted causing death by dangerous driving in Eckington.

A speeding van driver who ran a set of traffic lights and killed a 61-year-old pedestrian has been jailed.

Derby Crown Court heard on Wednesday, July 31, how Derek Talbot-Smith, 50, formerly of Stormont Grove, at Inkersall, Chesterfield, shot through a cross roads of traffic lights on the A6135 Sheffield Road, at Eckington, before his van struck Dorothy Wild so hard she was flung over 14 metres down the road.

Pictured is Derby Crown Court.

Pictured is Derby Crown Court.

Prosecuting barrister John Straw said: “The deceased, tragically, was Dorothy Wild. She was on her way to work at the pub and was a pedestrian and was struck while crossing the road from a bus stop to where the pub is located.”

Talbot-Smith’s blue van was initially captured on dash-cam footage from another driver, Andrew Fisher, waiting at the lights on Church Street and Eckington Road, according to Mr Straw, as the defendant’s van sped through the changing lights.

Mr Straw added that further CCTV footage from the Mossbrook Inn public house, where Ms Wild worked as a cleaner, showed her being struck by Talbot-Smith’s van and being flung 14 to 15 metres from the point where she had been crossing.

Experts revealed to the court that the speed of the van at the time of the incident at about 8am, on Friday, May 4, 2018, could be estimated at between 48mph and 51mph in a 30mph zone.

Mr Straw said: “Mr Fisher described the van as flying through the junction too fast and he even said to himself, ‘What an idiot’.”

Mr Straw added: “The impact of the van from the footage from the side of the road of the pub shows her being flung some 14-and-a-half metres.”

The defendant’s van was also caught on camera pulling up some metres away from the collision before Talbot-Smith got out.

Mr Straw said Ms Wild had looked down the road before crossing and must have seen the traffic lights turn red which must have suggested the carriageway was clear and safe to cross.

Experts also revealed that the van had tried to react to the incident by swerving but by that time the collision was inevitable.

Mr Straw said: “It was a course of bad driving which began with an effort to drive too quickly to get through the lights before they changed and ended with the tragic consequence we are all too familiar with.”

Talbot-Smith, of Westfield Southway, Sheffield, who has previous convictions for threatening behaviour, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and assault occasioning grievous bodily harm, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

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Defence solicitor Julia King said: “No outcome from these proceedings could lessen the impact of the loss of Mrs Wild on her family.

“Mr Talbot-Smith is anxious that I convey his remorse and contrition which is genuine and nothing I present in mitigation is to minimise that in any way.

“Mr Talbot-Smith accepts his responsibility for the death of Mrs Wild and accepted from the outset that he has always accepted exceeding the speed and accepts responsibility for the collision.”

Ms King argued that Talbot-Smith has no previous driving convictions and there were no other aggravating features with his driving involving alcohol or drugs or the use of a mobile phone.

She also claimed that other motorists are known to exceed the speed limit along that same road.

Mrs King added: “He punishes himself daily because he does not feel he deserves to live when Dorothy Wild did not.”

Talbot-Smith has also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder since the collision, according to Ms King, and he has suffered a shattered ankle after he fell from a ladder.

Recorder John Butterfield QC told Talbot-Smith that everything Dorothy Wild was and could ever be has been destroyed by him.

He said: “All she was and could have ever been was destroyed by you. It was wholly unavoidable and she was robbed of her retirement years.

“She was a conscientious lady going to work that morning. A source of light and love to those who cared for her.”

He further told Talbot-Smith: “Had you been travelling in the speed limit this death would not have occurred because you would have had time to brake and she would have had time to cross.

“The speed was calculated at about 52mph. You did not go through a red light but you could not have stopped in time if the lights had stopped sooner.”

Recorder Butterfield QC sentenced Talbot-Smith to three years of custody and disqualified him from driving for four years, which will begin on his release from prison.

Mrs Wild’s son Darren Hicklin stated: “The pain of losing a parent in such tragic circumstances is a pain I will have for the rest of my life.”