A JUDGE has told a driver who caused the death of a “loving wife, mother and sister” he would not jail him because he didn’t think a ”tooth for a tooth” sentence should be imposed.
Danny Lewis, 41, was convicted by a jury earlier this week of causing the death of former Swansea woman Joan Morris by careless driving.
He was found not guilty by a jury at Swansea Crown Court of a more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving.
Lewis, who has been suspended from his role as a retained firefighter in Cardigan, will have to complete 250 hours of unpaid work and been banned from driving for 12 months.
“There can be no justice, in the Old Testament sense, of a tooth for a tooth sentence when someone has died in these circumstances,” said Judge Philip Richards, sitting at Cardiff Crown Court.
The judge told Lewis the biggest burden he will have to live with is that he took the life of Mrs Morris, aged 51.
The judge said it was a “tragic case”.
“A lovely lady lost her life, that is something you know you are going to have to bear with you for the rest of your life,” he said.
She died as Lewis tried to overtake a car on the A487 near Llanon, Ceredigion.
Lewis, from Penparc, Cardigan, said he saw a “flash of colours” before colliding with Mrs Morris, who was riding a motorbike as she travelled away from her home, near Aberystwyth.
Mrs Morris, who had lived in Clase and Gorseinon with her husband Alan, a former Evening Post journalist, died instantly of her injuries.
The judge told Lewis that the jury had found him guilty of driving below the standard of a competent driver, but no so far below as to constitute dangerous driving.
Judge Richards said: “The most severe sentence you will have to live with will be in your conscience. You have taken away the life of another but I do not think this is a case where the court should be using its powers to impose even more hardship upon you and your family.”
He said he had heard “many positive” things about Lewis, including a “plethora” of testimonials about his character.
He said a pre-sentence report, ordered after his conviction on Tuesday, said he was an “extremely community conscious person” and had been “extremely affected” by the accident.
Huw Rees, representing Lewis, said his client would likely retain his job as a college mentor at Coleg Ceredigion but was facing a disciplinary hearing from the Fire Service and he was expecting to lose his job.
He asked the judge impose no extra order for costs as Lewis had already contributed £14,000 towards the costs of his defence case, which Judge Richards later granted.
Mr Rees said Lewis had been prepared to enter a plea before trial to the charge of death by careless driving, but the prosecution did not accept that.
Lewis had elected to give his evidence in Welsh, and Mrs Morris’s family expressed their disappointment that meant it had taken 20 months for the case to come to court.
The judge said he understood the families pain had been prolonged.
“Each of them has suffered over many months, waiting to know the outcome of these proceedings,” he added.
After the verdict Mr Morris had paid tribute to his late wife.
He said she was “a loving wife, mother and sister and devoted her working life to vulnerable and elderly people”.