A JUDGE has demanded to know why a council failed to erect warning signs after an horrific crash claimed the life of a Greetland grandmother.
Judge Jonathan Rose said he was astounded that the signs had not gone up 16 months after the crash which killed Mrs Susan Jones, who worked at Dobsons’ sweet factory in Elland.
He spoke out after jailing a lorry driver for causing the death of Mrs Jones – and demanded answers from Bradford Council within 14 days.
Motorist Mrs Jones, 58, a quality assurance manager at the sweet factory, suffered fatal head injuries when her Ford Focus car was hit by a speeding 14-tonne wagon which went out of control on a bend near to the Flappit Quarry, Cullingworth, in August last year.
Yesterday 45-year-old wagon driver Mark Sutcliffe, of School Lane, Greetland, was jailed for 16 months after he admitted causing Mrs Jones’ death by careless driving.
Although the A629 has a speed limit of 40mph for lorries, Sutcliffe’s vehicle was said to have been travelling at about 53mph on a wet road as he passed an existing road sign which warns drivers to “reduce speed now”.
Prosecutor Richard Gioserano said Mrs Jones, of Saddleworth Road, could do nothing to avoid the collision which caused Sutcliffe’s wagon to tip over on to its side.
Investigations revealed the road surface at the scene had “an abnormally low grip level when wet”.
Defence and prosecution experts suggested that in the wet Sutcliffe could have lost control of his vehicle if he had been doing between 34mph and 41mph.
When Judge Jonathan Rose expressed his dismay that no “slippery when wet” sign had been fitted.During his jailing of Sutcliffe, Judge Rose said he accepted that the “unusual road surface” was a contributory factor in the accident and he hoped that if there was one legacy from the tragedy it would a new sign.
“It is beyond my comprehension why if that unusual road surface was given to unusual slipperiness an appropriate warning had not previously been put up and it remains incomprehensible to me that even 16 months after this accident a sheet of metal with the words slippery when wet or something similar has not been affixed,” said Judge Rose.
“The local authority will provide me with an explanation within the next 14 days as to why that sign has not yet been affixed and more importantly when it is going to be affixed because I, without regard to what planning regulations there may be, simply cannot understand why it is not there and if there is only one legacy from this tragedy it should be that sign.”
The judge also expressed concern about the fact that three years ago Sutcliffe was convicted of speeding over a 30mph limit, but it did not show up on this record because he had agreed to undertake a course rather than have penalty points put on his licence.
The court heard that Sutcliffe was familiar with the road where the fatal collision took place and Judge Rose said he had been driving far in excess of the speed limit.
Judge Rose paid tribute to mother-of-three Mrs Jones describing her as a loving and caring mother, wife and daughter.
He said he did not have adequate words to express the impact of the accident and her passing and he stressed that Sutcliffe’s sentence was not intended to redress the loss her family had suffered.
“It would be the height of disrespect that a sentence measured in days, or a certain number of months or a certain number of years, would somehow redress the balance for the loss you undoubtedly feel,” he told Mrs Jones’ family members.