Lee Martin was killed when he was hit from behind by Christopher Gard’s Transit van. Gard was texting at the time of the collision and had failed to see Martin.
After the collision, Gard deleted several text messages from his phone and told police he had been distracted by his four year old son, who was in the passenger seat.
Gard had eight previous convictions for using a mobile phone whilst driving, and after his most recent offence only six weeks before the fatal collision he had been spared the loss of his licence.
Although Gard initially pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving, he denied the charge of causing death by dangerous driving until four days before his trial was due to start. He was sentenced in September 2016 to nine years’ imprisonment, was banned from driving for 14 and a half years, and was required to take an extended retest.
Gard’s family and many other individuals and groups have strongly criticised the failure of the legal process to remove Gard from the roads before the fatal incident, given the clear and persistent offending of a nature that poses high risk to others.
Gard was granted permission to appeal his sentence, but his appeal was dismissed in January 2017, with the judge remarking that, “Most rational people would have modified their behaviour for their own sake or for their potential victims’. He did not care about the danger he presented; he simply placed his own wishes ahead of the lives of others.”