Death crash Exmouth marine admits drink-driving

PUBLISHED: 08:50 03 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:55 03 March 2016

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A Royal Marine has admitted he was over the drink-drive limit and at the wheel of someone else’s tipper truck when he was involved in a fatal crash which killed a supermarket worker.

Jack Taylor was over the limit and driving without insurance when the tipper truck was in collision with moped rider Steven Davidson-Hackett on Ludwell Lane in Exeter on June 23, 2012.

Tesco worker Steven’s family have had to wait almost four years for the case to be dealt with in court because of a series of legal disputes, which have been settled by England’s highest court.

They will finally know the outcome of the case when Taylor is sentenced on May 3. Steven’s father, Ray Davidson-Hackett, has been given permission to read a statement on that day explaining the impact of the tragedy on the family.

Jack Taylor, 27, of Sturges Road, Exmouth, who is based at 42 Commando at Bickleigh, admitted taking a tipper truck without authority, drink-driving and having no insurance when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court.

Building worker David Marriott, 26, of Exeter Road, Exmouth, admitted taking the tipper truck without authority on the night before the accident. He was not involved in the incident itself.

Judge Graham Cottle imposed an interim driving ban on Taylor and adjourned the case until May. He released both men on bail.

Mr Adrian Chaplin, prosecuting, said as a result of a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Taylor, the Crown would be offering no evidence on two more serious charges which he had faced previously.

These were aggravated vehicle taking and causing death while driving without insurance. They will be dismissed finally at the hearing in May.

He said the date of May 3 had been agreed by both sides because Mr Ray Davidson-Hackett and members of his family had booked a three-week holiday in Australia, which could not be moved.

The sentencing hearing will end a saga, which has left the family with a very long wait for justice.

Steven Davidson-Hackett died from injuries he suffered in an accident on the late afternoon of June 23, 2012, when he was riding his moped back from work at Tesco on a narrow and winding single track section of Ludwell Lane in Exeter.

There was a collision in which he fell from his moped and hit the tipper truck, which was being driven in the opposite direction by Taylor, who was returning from dropping off a friend in Exeter.

He was later stopped by police and gave a reading of blood in alcohol of 111 milligrammes, which is above the limit of 80.

He was driving a tipper truck, which he had borrowed from Marriott, who had, in turn, taken it from his work the night before.

The legal complications arose because the police accident investigation did not show that Taylor’s driving had caused the accident. All the more serious charges he faced at one time required the prosecution to show his driving was at least careless.

The case was delayed repeatedly because the charge of causing death while driving uninsured was identical to another case which was already being appealed. It could not be heard until that case had been settled.

He had already pleaded guilty to both that charge and drink-driving, but was allowed to vacate both pleas.

Taylor went on trial at Exeter Crown Court in January 2015, but the case did not start because Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, who was then the Recorder of Exeter, ruled that the prosecution needed to show some fault in his driving beyond him being over the limit.

The prosecution accepted it could not prove his driving had caused the accident, but they challenged the judge’s interpretation of the law.

They won the first round in the Court of Appeal, but the case then went up to the Supreme Court, where the original interpretation was upheld.

Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury said: “There had to have been some act of omission in the control of the car which involved some element of fault, whether amounting to careless or inconsiderate driving or not, which contributed in some more than minimal way to the death.”

The whole saga means that it will be almost four years after Steven’s tragic death that his family will know the outcome and they remain unhappy about both the delay and the reduced charges which Taylor now faces.

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