22nd Nov, 2019

Wasps worker late for work ploughed into students on Coventry pedestrian crossing

A YOUNG man who was cutting it fine to get to work at Wasps rugby club, where he was facing a meeting about poor timekeeping, ploughed into two students on a pedestrian crossing.

Daniel Collins was doing 48mph in a 30 zone on Sky Blue Way in Coventry when his Mercedes car hit the two Chinese students as he was on his way to the Ricoh Arena – the home of Wasps.

As a result, one of the two young women, a postgraduate student at Coventry University, suffered serious fractures to the femurs, the thigh bones, in both legs, and a broken ankle.

Collins (24) of Tonbridge Road, Whitley, Coventry, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to causing serious injury to victim Xo Chen by dangerous driving.

Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said Collins entered his plea on the basis that he had not been late for work on the morning of May 31 last year, and it had not been possible to establish from a nearby CCTV camera whether he had been running late.

“But although we can’t prove he would have been late, he was certainly cutting it fine, and he was speeding, doing nearby 50 in a 30 limit.”

Mr Simpson said postgraduate student Xo Chen and another student from China were on their way to Coventry University when they began to cross the Sky Blue Way dual carriageway, which has three lanes in each direction at that point.

They were on a crossing just yards beyond the roundabout at the junction with Lower Ford Street, but whether the lights were green for pedestrians or cars at that moment was not clear.

As the two of them, following other people crossing the road, reached the middle lane on the side of the carriageway heading away from the city centre they were hit by Collins’s car.

“Witnesses described it coming very fast as it left the roundabout and making no attempt to slow down.”

Both students tried to run, but were hit by the Mercedes, with Xu Chen suffering serious bilateral fractures to her thighs and a broken ankle, and her friend receiving more minor injuries.

Collins stopped further up the road and returned to the scene where he co-operated with the police.

He told officers he was making the 15-minute journey to work at the Ricoh Arena, intending to arrive at 9 o’clock, and claimed he was doing ‘a normal speed’ of 35-40mph on the road, which he said he believed had a speed limit of 40, and that the crossing lights were on green for him when he saw the two girls.

“He said he was not running late, and that in any event, he worked flexitime, so could have made up the time.

“In fact he had a history of bad timekeeping and had been placed on a performance improvement plan – and he had a meeting scheduled for 9am that day about his timekeeping.”

When he interviewed at a later date, Collins did not accept an expert’s assessment of his speed as 48mph, claiming he was only doing 35, and described what his employers said about his timekeeping as ‘bullshit.’

Mr Simpson added that Xo Chen was in hospital for two weeks, and even after her discharge she was still unable to walk independently, and had missed lectures and exams as a result.

David Munro, defending, said: “Since the age of 16 he has worked, seeking to pursue a career in accountancy, and he was working for Wasps rugby club. There were concerns about his attitude, and one concern was about him being late for work.”

Mr Munro said Collins, who now works for a distribution company, was under the impression that the speed limit was 40 – but he was wrong.

Judge Andrew Lockhart QC observed: “He’s come down from the ring road to the roundabout, and ahead is the crossing. There are zigzag markings as you come off the roundabout, and he has just literally come off the roundabout and is doing 48.”

Mr Munro conceded there was always a risk the pedestrians would be using the crossing, but said Collins maintained the lights were on green as he approached it.

But the judge commented: “If he’d been doing 30, he would have stopped some way before the crossing. At 48, it would take three times the stopping distance.”

Jailing Collins and banning him from driving for four years, Judge Lockhart told him: “We start with the victim. As a result of your dangerous driving she had two weeks in hospital with broken legs. One can only imagine the pain and shock, and it has severely affected her studies.

“I find you were cutting it fine, at the very least, for your attendance at work, something you were prone to do.

“You came off the roundabout at the bottom of Gosford Street, and you were travelling at at least 48 miles an hour.

“The students set off across the road. They thought it was clear. They were not counting on you cutting it fine.

“This was 48 miles an hour in a 30, and you failed to have regard to vulnerable road-users at this time of the morning when it was inevitable there would be students around.”

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