Sussex

Two drivers found guilty over Gatwick crash death

Gatwick Airport
Image caption Joanna Jones and Christopher Solomon were on their way to Venice

Two men have been convicted of causing death by careless driving after a woman died in a two-vehicle road crash near Gatwick Airport in West Sussex.

The two drivers, Christopher Solomon, from Spain, and Geoffrey Bratt, of Northamptonshire, had both denied the charge at Hove Crown Court.

Joanna Jones was in Solomon's Toyota Yaris when it crashed with Bratt's Land Rover Discovery in March 2009.

She and Solomon were going to Venice for a belated Valentine's Day trip.

The court heard Solomon had turned right into a long-term car park across the path of Bratt's oncoming vehicle.

Jurors heard Bratt was travelling at 64mph in a 40mph zone immediately before the crash.

After the hearing, Insp Peter Verney said no-one had set out to harm the 27-year-old woman, from Great Leighs, Chelmsford, Essex.

'Both to blame'

He said: "This was a tragic and totally avoidable collision that cut short the life of a young and very talented woman.

"Her family live with the loss each day and no sentence will ever ease that pain."

He added: "Through their careless actions, both Christopher Solomon and Geoffrey Bratt must each share some of the blame for her untimely death.

"I hope that this case highlights the potential consequences of inattention and the inappropriate use of speed."

Solomon, 29, formerly of Radlett in Hertfordshire but now living in Spain, was ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid service.

His licence was endorsed and he was banned from driving for three years and ordered to take an extended driving test after the ban. He was also ordered to pay £500 prosecution costs.

Bratt, 67, of The Greys, Weedon, whose licence was also endorsed, was given a nine month suspended jail term.

He was banned from driving for three years and ordered to take an extended driving test after the ban. He was ordered to pay £2,300 prosecution costs.

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