Oxford

A34 fatal crash driver who met victim's girlfriend jailed

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Media captionThe moment Lewis Stratford met his victim's partner

A driver who met the partner of a man he killed in a head-on crash has been jailed for more than three years.

Lewis Stratford crashed through the central reservation of the A34 at Compton, Oxfordshire while arguing with his girlfriend on the phone.

The 24-year-old collided with a BMW driven by Gavin Roberts, 28, who died in the crash on 11 June last year.

Stratford met his victim's girlfriend Meg Williamson in a restorative justice programme after pleading guilty.

At Reading Crown Court he was sentenced to three years and eight months in jail for causing death by dangerous driving, and banned from driving for four years and 10 months.

Judge Stephen John told him: "This was a wholly avoidable accident which caused a wholly avoidable death.

"Only you are to blame"

Image caption Lewis Stratford (front) was sentenced at Reading Crown Court
Image copyright Meg Williamson
Image caption The last photo taken of the couple together the night before Gavin Roberts died

Members of Australian national Mr Roberts's family paid tribute to him.

In a statement, Mr Roberts's father Geoff said that his son was "a great guy, a delightful person. I am very proud that he was my son".

Speaking in court, his mother Rose Joshua told Stratford to "honour the memory" of her son by "learning from what has happened and becoming a better person".

Miss Williamson set up the meeting with Stratford, of Field Avenue, Oxford, which was filmed by the BBC.

He told her: "I know I've caused a lot of pain with something that could have waited till the next day.

"I know the lives I've ruined, I deserve everything I get. I am sorry but I can't keep saying that because it's not going to make things better."

Defence barrister Giles Newell told the court his client was "eternally grateful" to Miss Williamson for meeting him and had been "racked with guilt, regret and shame".

Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption Stratford was speeding and made three "emotional" phone calls
Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption Both men were taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries

Stratford had been driving south towards his girlfriend's home, while Mr Roberts was on his way to work as an electrical engineer.

Both men were taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries and Mr Roberts died days later.

The court heard that over a 35-minute period Stratford was speeding and made three "emotional" phone calls.

Speaking after the meeting, Miss Williamson told the BBC: "The hardest bit originally, I think, was just walking through the door, not knowing how I was going to be feeling, how I was going to react.

"Back in June, when I was sat in the hospital, I did have that hatred and I did have the anger but then over time you realise Lewis is a real person and he had compassion and he was sorry for what he did."

Geoff Roberts said his son's funeral had been held in Australia and added: "It was overwhelming how many people were there.

"Gavin wasn't a politician or a famous person but people liked him, they really liked him. Everyone wanted to pay their respects to him."

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