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22 July 2010, 07:06
A tired driver who lost control of his car and killed a teenager in Gravesend is starting more than three years in jail.
Josh Callaghan, 16, was walking along London Road, close to the Overcliff in Gravesend, with his father when Koaldeap Singh Lit's car swerved off the road, mounted the pavement and struck him.
Josh, from Canon Road in Bromley, suffered severe head injuries and was taken by ambulance to a London hospital where he died a few hours later.
Lit, from Cliffe Road, Strood, stood trial at Maidstone Crown Court where a jury returned a unanimous verdict after two hours of deliberations to find him guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. He was sentenced today (Wednesday 21 July).
The court heard how the collision happened at around 4pm on Saturday 24 January 2009 as Lit, a 35-year-old construction worker, drove home from a morning's work in Bath. Josh was walking on the pavement with his dad Tim on their way to play a game of pool at a local pub.
In evidence, witness Kelly Allen described how she saw Lit's car swerving and braked in her yellow Fiat. She was stationary when Lit's maroon Vauxhall Vectra bounced off the railings outside Rosherville Primary School and into her car.
In a statement, read to the court, Tim Callaghan said: "I remember the roar of a car, like it was revving and saw it out of the corner of my eye travelling towards Gravesend. A split second later it headed straight towards me and I felt the wind of the car as it went past me."
Giving evidence, Lit said a dog had run out from the left and he swerved to the right to avoid it. He added: "I remember going through the railings outside the school but I didn't see any pedestrians. It happened so fast." He denied that he had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Sentencing Lit to three and a half years' imprisonment, Judge Jeremy Gold QC told Lit that he had lied about the dog and about the number of stops he had made on route from Bath - he claimed to have stopped six times.
He said: "What you did was to carry on driving when you knew you were falling asleep, colliding with Josh and missing his father by inches. You realised what you had done and embarked on a course of deliberate lies. I can see very little remorse in the way you have conducted yourself."
PC Andy Gallon from Kent Police's serious crash investigation team was in court to hear the sentence imposed.
He said: "This has been a lengthy and complicated investigation and a traumatic time for Josh's family and friends.
"His father Tim Callaghan has, along with the rest of the family, conducted themselves with dignity throughout a very difficult and highly emotional 18 months. He has also had to find the courage to deal with being a witness to the incident, which was, I know, particularly distressing for him.
"A custodial sentence has now been passed and I hope that this will bring some element of relief to the family. I would also urge other drivers reading this to think long and hard before getting behind the wheel when they are tired."