A Borders trucker has been jailed for over two years for crashing into a digger and killing its driver.
John Rogerson’s poor eyesight was to blame for the collision that killed Stephen Clarehugh, 54, on the A1 south of Alnwick in Northumberland, Newcastle Crown Court heard on Monday.
The 72-year-old, of Craig Terrace in Innerleithen, was sent to prison for 28 months and banned from driving for six years and two months by judge Robert Adams.
Rogerson was in court for sentencing after admitting causing death by dangerous driving on the A1 on December 9, 2015.
He was travelling south from Kelso to Cambridgeshire at dusk when he failed to spot a JCB vehicle being driven by Mr Clarehugh.
Emergency services rushed to the aid of the father of two, but he was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
Rogerson took a mandatory eye test as part of Northumbria Police’s investigation of the fatal crash and failed it, the court heard.
Sergeant Jason Ryder, of the force’s motor patrols unit, said afterwards: “This was yet another avoidable death on the roads that has robbed a family of a loving father, grandfather and husband and changed their lives forever.
“The mandatory eye test shows that John Rogerson wasn’t fit to drive, and the fact that he was behind the wheel of an HGV is particularly shocking for me.
“All of us, as drivers, have a huge responsibility every time we take to the road.
“If you are not fit to drive, it can have devastating consequences, as we have seen in this case.
“Too many times, officers are having to speak about collisions that could have been prevented if drivers had given consideration to fellow road users.
“Hopefully, this collision will make road users in the same position as Mr Rogerson think twice about getting behind the wheel.”
Mr Clarehugh’s widow Fiona paid tribute to her late husband, a microlight flying instructor, of Bockenfield, near Felton in Northumberland, saying: “It is such a bitter irony that a man who spent thousands of hours safely teaching people to fly, in an environment thought by so many to be so dangerous, should be tragically killed in a road traffic accident – so much life ended in the blink of an eye.
“Steve was a very special person to whom everyone instantly warmed.
“He was a larger-than-life character who touched so many people with his fabulous zest for life and his great sense of humour.
“He did what he wanted to do and was passionate about, living life to the full.
“He was a big man with big hands that loved his food, beer and whisky and embraced life.
“Steve’s death saddened more than a community.
“Hundreds of sympathy cards, letters and flowers were delivered, and more than 1,000 people attended his funeral, which was held in an aircraft hangar.
“We will miss his humour, his loyalty, his love and his friendship, his integrity, his wisdom, his ability to do the right thing and his mischievousness.”
Father-of-four Rogerson, a lorry driver for 53 years, has vowed never to get behind the wheel of a vehicle again and has expressed genuine remorse for his actions, the court heard.