Man jailed after causing death of motorcyclist by careless driving

surrey jailed

A man has been sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment and banned from driving for three years and eight months after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving following a collision in Lingfield in September 2018.

James Wells, 38, of Oxted, was initially charged with causing death by dangerous driving following the death of motorcyclist 54-year-old Philip McClean as a result of the collision on the evening of Sunday, 16 September 2018 in Tandridge Lane.

Following a trial earlier this month, Wells was found not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. He had already pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Wells was also ordered to take an extended driving test when his ban ends. 

Wells was driving his silver Vauxhall Vectra along Tandridge Lane around 5.40pm when was involved in a head-on collision with a red Suzuki Bandit motorcycle, which was being ridden by Mr McClean.

Surrey Police received a call around 5.55pm from South East Coast Ambulance Service to inform them of the collision and that the motorcyclist was in traumatic cardiac arrest.

Police arrived shortly afterwards, and Mr McClean was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.  

A forensic collision investigator found evidence at the scene that Wells had driven on the wrong side of the road for 55 meters prior to when the collision occurred. 

There were no independent witnesses to the collision. 

Further enquiries also showed that Surrey Police had attended a previous collision involving Wells at a petrol station in Snow Hill, Felbridge, at around 2.25pm on the day of the collision involving Wells’ Vauxhall Vectra and a display stand.

Wells had been breathalysed, drug tested and given a roadside impairment test, all of which he passed.

The Judge was also made aware that Wells had a recent conviction for drink and drug driving which he was found guilty of in November 2020.

Detective Sergeant Kani Barawi from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “The sentence given to Wells today reflects the tragic and serious consequences that careless driving can have. Wells’ reckless behaviour and reprehensible decision to drive on the wrong side of the road with no explanation given to the McClean family has robbed a family of a father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin and friend, leaving behind a massive hole in their lives.”

“While this sentence will not bring Philip McClean back, or the “Gentle Giant” as he was known by his family and friends, the fact that Wells has been brought to justice will give them some comfort.

Speaking on behalf of the McClean family, Philip’s daughter Megan said that this sentence could now help them start to grieve for Philip and that the family “could now rebuild their lives”. 

She said:

“Philip is missed just as much today as he was the day he was killed. 

“The family has fought for justice and this afternoon it was served, all be it nowhere near enough to match the size of the man that we have lost. 

“We are so grateful that everything that happened is now in the public domain and it is known that my Dad was not at fault.”

She added: “I’ll continue to keep my Dad’s memory alive and he lives on through all those who love him.”