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2 January 2015, 12:20
A 27-year-old man has been jailed for six years after he caused the death of a woman while colliding with her car on the Isle of Wight when he was checking his mobile phone.
Craig Eccleston-Todd (pictured), from Newport was driving home from the pub on October 11, 2013, when he received a text message.
It was as he was reading or replying to the message, that he went across the white line on a bend on the A3054 at Bouldnor, near Yarmouth, and collided with the car being driven by 28-year-old Rachel Titley, from Cowes (pictured below).
Eccleston-Todd was found guilty by a jury of causing death by dangerous driving and was sentenced today at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Following the sentence, Lindsay Pennell, senior crown prosecutor for the CPS in Wessex said: "Craig Eccleston-Todd's driving resulted in the tragic death of a young woman Rachel Titley, a death that could have been avoided.
"After spending the evening with friends at a pub, Mr Eccleston-Todd started his journey home from Yarmouth and, during the course of the journey, he received a text message.
"Mr Eccleston-Todd took the decision to pick up his mobile phone whilst driving and, either reading or replying to this text message, was so distracted that he failed to negotiate a left hand bend, crossing the central white line into the path of Miss Titley's oncoming car.
"Miss Titley was a 28-year-old, solicitor's clerk, with a bright future ahead of her. She was also returning home having spent an enjoyable evening with friends and was driving responsibly. She had arranged to contact her friends when she got home to confirm that she had arrived safely. Her friends sadly never heard from her after they parted company.
"After hearing both the prosecution and the defence case, the jury at Portsmouth Crown Court was satisfied that Mr Eccleston-Todd was using his mobile phone to read or send a text message at the time of the collision and that in doing so his driving fell far below what was expected of a competent and careful driver and was dangerous.
"Miss Titley's death in these circumstances reiterates the danger of using a hand held mobile phone whilst driving. Our thoughts are with Miss Titley's family.''
PC Mark Furse from Hampshire Constabulary’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit said: "Our thoughts are with Rachel’s family at this time. She had been out with friends at a pub in Shalfleet that evening, but had not had any alcohol. Our investigation showed that there was nothing she could have done to avoid the collision and sadly it cost her her life.
"Mr Eccleston-Todd had left work in Yarmouth and met with friends at a pub where he drank at least three to four pints of lager. He hadn’t long left the pub to return home when the collision occurred at around 9.30pm.
"We weren’t able to take breath or blood tests from him immediately and although blood taken several hours after the collision showed he was marginally under the limit, we maintain he would have been over the limit at the time of the collision and in summing up today, the judge agreed.
"The analysis of his phone records showed that he was texting on his phone around the time of the collision so it’s highly likely this would also have contributed to his dangerous driving and loss of control.
"Mr Eccleston-Todd will now spend six years behind bars, but Rachel’s family have lost her forever. I hope this will make people think twice before drinking any alcohol and getting behind the wheel, or using a phone once they're on the road.
"The dangers of drink driving and driving whilst using a mobile phone are obvious. Those who continue to do so risk spending a substantial time in prison. This case highlights just how tragic the consequences of committing these offences can be."