A TAXI driver who continued working to pick up one last fare after ‘a level of fatigue had set in’ causing the death of a young motorcyclist.
But Parminder Singh escaped being jailed after a jury had found him guilty of causing the death of Coventry teenager Jack Simpson by careless driving, which he had denied.
Following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on him, he was sentenced to 28 weeks in prison suspended for two years by a judge at Warwick Crown Court.
Singh (36) of Baseley Way, Longford, Coventry, was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and banned from driving for three years by Judge Peter Cooke.
During the trial prosecutor Rebecca Austin said that at 2.30am on December 4 last year Singh was heading out of the city centre along Ansty Road to pick up a fare at the Coventry Oak pub.
He had to make a right turn from the dual carriageway at traffic lights at the junction with Hipswell Highway.
With the lights on green he pulled forward, and, after another taxi had gone past in the opposite direction, edged into the outside lane on that side of the road.
But Singh, who had been working since three the previous afternoon, although he had taken breaks, failed to notice Jack riding in the direction of the city centre.
The bike, which was travelling at an average of 55 on the 40mph road, struck the taxi in the region of the offside corner of its right bumper, and Jack was thrown into the road.
He was rushed to hospital, but despite all attempts to save him, he died of his injuries on January 4, said Miss Austin.
Peter McCartney, defending, had argued that Jack was travelling at such a speed that, although Singh stopped, ‘the motorcyclist took no or little action to avoid the collision.’
And he pointed out that, as a provisional rider, Jack was restricted to a 125 cc machine – and although the bike frame was badged as being 125cc, it was actually fitted with a 250cc engine.
He submitted those issues were ‘highly relevant,’ but Judge Cooke responded: “No. The issue is not whether the deceased, Jack Simpson, could have avoided the collision or the manner of his riding. What this case is about is whether there was any fault on the part of Parminder Singh.”
Giving evidence through an interpreter, Singh said: “I had looked, and it was clear up ahead. In the second when I realised and saw Jack’s motorbike I just put on my brakes. It was like a bullet, and in a second it came.”
He added: “I really feel sorry. He was just an 18-year-old boy. If I had known soothing like this would happen, I would not have gone to work that day.”
At the resumed hearing Jack’s mother Barbara Simpson said: “Trying to find the words to express the loss of my very much loved youngest boy is so difficult.
“For some time now I have been living in a numb state. He suffered so much with so many injuries.”
She said her last memory of him was in the Chapel of Rest six weeks after his death because ‘for reasons not known to me, we could not get his body released in case the defence wanted another post mortem report.’
“I will never understand or forgive the pain caused by this delay. I believe the man who hit Jack has children. Can he imagine how he would feel if the same had happened to one of his children? I don’t think so.
“If he was truly sorry, he would admit to what he has done,” added Mrs Simpson.
Mr McCartney said of Singh: “He is a religious man who, while Jack Simpson was fighting for his life, attended his temple regularly to pray for his recovery.
“It is said in the report that Jack Simpson’s death has had a profound effect on Parminder Singh. He suffers flashbacks and has trouble sleeping.
“This was momentary carelessness in pulling from the junction. He accepts he failed to see Jack Simpson’s motorcycle, and that, I submit, is the extent of his culpability.”
Judge Cooke commented: “On the face of it, the failure to see Jack’s motorcycle is inexplicable, unless he had worked on to the point of fatigue.”
Sentencing Singh, the judge told him: “You, for a reason that I have no doubt you struggle now to identify, failed to observe that there was a motorcyclist coming towards you.
“Even the defence expert conceded he would have been in plain sight. I can only conclude you carried on driving to pick up this last fare that night after a level of fatigue had set in.
“Continuing to work when tiredness has sent in is a serious error of judgement for someone who drives for a living, and can lead to tragedy.”
Accepting Singh’s remorse was genuine, despite his not guilty plea, he said: “The very last thing you wanted to do when you went to work that day was to harm anyone, let alone take someone’s life.”
Judge Cooke said he believed Singh had ‘struggled to find the moral courage’ to accept his responsibility – hindered in that by the defence collision expert who he said had ‘failed to address the real issues in the case,’ leading Singh’s legal team to assess the case in the wrong way.