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Woman who killed cousin because of her van's dirty windscreen avoids jail term




Chris Clements (3903036)
Chris Clements (3903036)

A driver who killed her disabled cousin because she was dazzled by sunlight from her van's dirty windscreen has avoided a jail term.

Hayley Sterna, 51, was driving a van on Brinkley Road, the B1052 at Westley Waterlees, on January 4 when she hit Chris Clements, who was riding in a wheelchair close to the road as he was walking his dog.

Mr Clements, 40, of Beech Croft, Brinkley, was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, but died the following day.

Cambridge Crown Court heard forensic collision investigations found Sterna had not cleared her windscreen during her journey, having run out of screen wash.

She also failed to clean the screen or add screen wash despite having a two-and-a-half hour break. After the collision she said she had been dazzled by sunlight through the windscreen.

Sterna admitted causing death by careless driving because she had driven with a dirty windscreen, causing her to be dazzled by sunlight.

The windscreen from inside (3903038)
The windscreen from inside (3903038)

But on Wednesday she was found not guilty of the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving after a jury had concluded her driving had not fallen "far below" the standard expected.

Yesterday she was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, disqualification from driving for two years with an extended retest, and 200 hours of community service.

Sgt Simon Goldsmith, a traffic officer who worked on the case, said: "This shows the potentially devastating consequences of driving a vehicle that is not fit for the road.

"It would not have taken long to clean the windscreen and replenish her washer fluid but Sterna made the tragic decision not to.

"Driving is something many of us do ebery day and it can be easy to forget we are in charge of a potentially lethal weapon. It's crucial everyone regularly checks their vehicle is roadworthy, particularly during the autumn and winter months when road conditions are likely to be worse."