South Scotland

Van driver jailed over fatal A74(M) crash near Lockerbie

Stephen Clarke Image copyright Iain McLellan/Spindrift Photo Agency
Image caption Stephen Clarke had previously admitted causing Farzana Kousar's death by dangerous driving

A delivery van driver from the West Midlands has been jailed for two years for causing the death of a Glasgow woman on the A74(M) near Lockerbie.

Stephen Clarke, 60, of Wednesbury, had admitted causing the death of Farzana Kousar, 39, by dangerous driving.

A court had previously heard how he fell asleep at the wheel before the accident in December 2014.

Ms Kousar's family expressed disappointment at the sentence and urged the Crown to appeal against it.

Clarke was also disqualified from driving for a period of four years at the High Court in Edinburgh.

His van was seen to swerve from lane to lane before colliding with the car in which Ms Kousar was a passenger which had been parked on the hard shoulder.

Judge Lord Boyd said: "It is difficult to find words to describe the impact on Ms Kousar's family and friends.

"I note that she has four children ranging in ages from 21 years old to four years old.

"The youngest was only two years old at the time of her mother's death."

Image caption The crash happened on the A74(M) motorway in December 2014

He said a victim statement prepared by her mother made "heart-breaking reading".

"There is nothing I can do or say that can compensate for their loss," he said.

The judge told Clarke it was clear the amount of sleep he had had before undertaking the journey had been "inadequate".

"It is very concerning to learn of the pressures that appear to be placed on self-employed delivery drivers such as you," he added.

However, he said it was to Clarke's credit he had taken full responsibility for what happened.

"You have shown considerable remorse," he added.

Lord Boyd told him he would have jailed him for three years after trial but took into account of his guilty plea in imposing the sentence to two years.

'Angry and frustrated'

The Kousar family, in a statement given to the press, described it as a "lenient decision".

It said they did not feel justice had been done and were "angry and frustrated" by the sentence.

"We would like the Crown to appeal this decision," the statement said.

"We feel that it gives people permission to fall asleep at the wheel of their vehicles - it sends the message that they won't be properly punished for not taking care on the roads."

It said Clarke would be out of jail "soon enough" to go back to his family.

"We will spend the rest of our lives grieving for the loss of our loved one," the statement added.

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