Eilidh Cairns death crash driver escapes driving ban

THE family of Eilidh Cairns have hit out after the HGV driver who mowed down the cyclist three years ago was jailed for killing an elderly pedestrian.

Eilidh Cairns

THE family of Eilidh Cairns have hit out after the HGV driver who mowed down the cyclist three years ago was jailed for killing an elderly pedestrian.

Joao Correia-Lopes, 56, who killed Miss Cairns while she was riding her bike in London in February 2009, has been sentenced to a four-year prison term after pleading guilty to causing the death of German woman Nora Gutman, 97, in another collision.

Correia-Lopes, of Leyton, East London, was convicted only of driving with uncorrected defective vision following the crash which killed Miss Cairns, whose family live in the Alnwick area.

He was fined £200, given three penalty points on his licence and told to wear glasses, but was allowed to carry on driving.

This week, a judge at Isleworth Crown Court in London handed Correia-Lopes a four-year prison term and six-year driving ban after he hit Mrs Gutman when she stepped onto a pedestrian crossing outside Madame Tussaud's in Marylebone Road in the capital, in June last year. Kate Cairns, Eilidh’s sister, said she was angered at the judge’s decision not to permanently revoke Correia-Lopes’ license to prevent him causing any further tragedies on the roads.

She said: “We wanted him to be banned for life and to never drive again, but the judge only banned him for six years.

“It wasn’t retribution that was wanted, it was just to know he wouldn’t be able to drive again.

“I understand it is a rare thing for people to get life bans, I think there were only three people in 2011 to get a lifetime ban, but we need to look at what we are trying to achieve in the justice process.”

Kate, who lives in Newton by the Sea, added: “I actually spoke to his family and his daughter said to me that she wished he would’ve got a ban because she would rather have a father with a driving ban then a father in prison.

“It was a pretty emotional and upsetting day.”

Since Miss Cairns’ death, Kate and her family have been actively campaigning for a change in European law that would make it mandatory for all HGVs to be fitted with cameras and sensors to eradicate drivers’ blind spots.

She added: “No justice came out of this case. Justice will be preventing anything like this happening again by banning him for life and making sure legislation is in place to protect cyclists.”

Correia-Lopes was also given a one-year jail sentence for causing false data in recording equipment after police found a magnet had been fitted to the speedometer and odometer in the lorry to evade laws on driving hours. This will run concurrently with his four-year sentence, of which he must serve half.

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