Wednesday, 19 Jun 2024

Driver who had smoked cannabis avoids jail after fatal crash that killed father

A man who was under the influence of cannabis when he caused a fatal accident by crashing his Ford Transit van into a father-of-three cycling along the road has been given a lenient sentence after the judge feared it would have a “potential impact” on his mother.

Police officers discovered Mark Beresford lying on the ground and speaking in a childlike manner after he collided with Darren Maironis, a high school maths teacher.

Mr Maironis, who was cycling downhill, was rushed to hospital with fatal injuries but tragically died following the collision.

Despite failing to notice the approaching cyclist, 44-year-old Beresford told officers: “He could have gone around me, that’s what gets me.”

Investigations revealed that the warehouse worker had smoked cannabis on the night prior to the accident, although he tested below the drug-drive limit four hours after the collision.

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Mr Maironis, a former wrestler and maths teacher at Westleigh School in Leigh, Greater Manchester, had been participating in a cycling time trial at the time of the crash.

During the proceedings at Chester Crown Court, Mark Beresford, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, faced a potential prison sentence of up to three years after confessing to causing death by careless driving.

However, Judge Simon Berkson opted not to impose a custodial sentence, considering the impact it would have on Beresford’s elderly mother.

“No sentence that the court can impose can in any way reflect the loss of someone’s life and this crime has devastated a family,” Judge Berkson said.

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“I can only hope that with the proceedings coming to an end that the family can come to terms with what has happened. They will never get over their loss. They will have to live with the consequences of your actions forever.

“But I am of a view that there is a real prospect of rehabilitation in your case. Further, there is the potential impact on your elderly mother if you were to be sent to prison. 

“It would have an effect on her as you help her with her health problems and financially. In these circumstances I believe I am able to suspend the sentence.”

The collision happened at around 3.40pm on July 17, 2021, on the A535 Chelford Road in Goostrey, Cheshire.

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Jayne Morris, prosecuting, said: “He had been following his mobile phone sat nav system which was in a holder to the right side of the steering wheel. The instructions were spoken and on the approach to the junction the defendant was instructed by the satellite navigation system to turn right.

“But travelling in the opposite direction was Darren Maironis who was taking part in a time trial cycle event. An eye witness expected the defendant to stop and wait before turning right but he didn’t and turned into the path of Mr Maironis.

“In her statement she said: ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes when it didn’t stop, it wasn’t going particularly quickly but it just kept going'”.

A blood sample collected for analysis at 7:51 pm, which was four hours after the accident, indicated that Beresford had 1.7 micrograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per liter of blood in his system. The legal limit for THC is 2 milligrams. During the investigation, Beresford informed the police that he had been “blinded” by the sun.

In a statement, Mr Maironis’s widow, Louise, a customer services representative, said: “Losing Darren has shattered our world. He was the glue, he held us all together and was dedicated to his family. 

“He was incredibly strong, his strength and determination gave us all purpose. The pain of losing him has been totally heartbreaking. He was incredibly loved by all who knew him, friends, colleagues, students. 

“He touched so many lives in so many ways. Becoming a widow has changed all that, changed our plans, changed everything. We miss his laughter, we miss his zest for life. He will never be forgotten and his memory will be cherished. Darren was our hero, it was an honour and privilege to have him in our lives.”

Beresford was sentenced to 10 months in jail, suspended for two years, along with a requirement to complete 200 hours of unpaid work. 

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