Beds, Herts & Bucks

Man sentenced after Hertfordshire motorway death crash

A driver who killed a woman in a crash on the M1 near Watford has avoided jail after her husband said he did not want him to get a custodial sentence.

Simon Howell, 40, of St Margaret's Close, Berkhamsted, was convicted by a jury at St Albans Crown Court of causing death by careless driving.

Atinuke Ajayi, 42, of Hemel Hempstead, died after Howell's car crashed in to her broken-down Peugeot 306.

Howell was given a 26-week sentence suspended for 12 months.

He was also given a year's driving ban and ordered to complete 120 hours unpaid work and pay £4,000 costs.

The crash happened on the southbound carriageway of the motorway between junctions five and four at 1000 GMT on 15 January 2010.

'Ignored signs'

Mrs Ajayi, a social worker, had broken down in her Peugeot 306 in lane three with her hazard lights flashing.

Gantry lights warned drivers to slow down to 50mph to avoid her.

But Howell ignored the signs and continued driving his Ford Mondeo at 70mph, crashing into her car, the court heard.

Mrs Ajayi, the mother of a young son, was taken to Watford Hospital with serious injuries where she died the next day.

Howell suffered minor injuries and was also taken to hospital as a precaution.

In a victim impact statement given to Judge Andrew Bright QC, Mrs Ajayi's husband Adetola said: "I see Mr Howell as a good and responsible person who did not set out on that day to cause the death of my wife with his driving.

"I would prefer Mr Howell does not receive a custodial sentence."

The judge said: "I have not come across anyone more magnanimous in grief."

Defence barrister Jennifer Tallentire said: "His dignity has impressed us all in this case."

Ms Tallentire said her client had an excellent driving record.

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