Suspended sentence for woman who caused death of Potters Bar dad by careless driving

PUBLISHED: 14:14 31 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:16 31 July 2020

Michael Bates. Picture: Herts police

Michael Bates. Picture: Herts police

herts police....family tribute pic

A 23-year-old woman has been given a suspended sentence after being found guilty of causing the death of two people – one of whom was from Potters Bar – by careless driving, having hit the rear of a horse and trap.

Michael Bates with partner Melissa and children George and Grace in 2010. Picture: Herts policeMichael Bates with partner Melissa and children George and Grace in 2010. Picture: Herts police

Chloe Richards was driving the Mazda 2 that hit the victims with such force that they and the horse went flung into the air with both dying as a result.

The horse that had been pulling Michael Bates, 41, from Potters Bar and Donna Hicklin, 20, from Enfield – on Lieutenant Ellis Way in Waltham Cross – did not stand a chance and bled to death at the scene, said prosecutor Neil King at Luton Crown Court.

Mr King said: “We have heard three drivers saw it, the horse and trap, and manoeuvred around it safely, on October 1 2018. Is the difference you were in a hurry and performing an erratic manoeuvre into that lane?” Ms Richards replied: ‘No.’”

When asked if she was driving aggressively, she said: “I was driving carefully.”

Donna Hicklin. Picture: Supplied by Donna Hicklin family to South Beds News AgencyDonna Hicklin. Picture: Supplied by Donna Hicklin family to South Beds News Agency

Witness Ahmet Retvan told the court he had been driving along the dual carriageway when he became aware of the horse and trap ahead of him in the left hand lane. He said he indicated and slowed to move into the right hand lane.

Mr Retvan said that between eight and 10 seconds later, a car went past him on the inside and almost immediately crashed into the horse and trap.

He said he saw Mr Bates and Miss Hicklin and the horse “fly up into the air like a firework” before falling to the ground.

The court also heard Ms Richards ploughed into the rear of the horse and trap at 51mph without braking.

Donna Hicklin memorial. Picture: Supplied by Donna Hicklin family to South Beds News AgencyDonna Hicklin memorial. Picture: Supplied by Donna Hicklin family to South Beds News Agency

As she approached the Goffs Oak roundabout, Ms Richards said she saw two cars in the right hand lane and assumed they were going right. She moved into the left hand lane where the crash occurred.

She said she did not see the pony and trap in front of her. Crying in the witness box, she said: “Before I manoeuvred I took my foot off the accelerator.

“There was something in front of me. At the impact I closed my eyes. I did not know what it was. There was a big bang and I put my hazards on and exited the vehicle.”

The 23-year-old was found not guilty of two offences of causing death by dangerous driving on Thursday, but was convicted of the lesser charges of causing the deaths by careless driving.

Donna Hicklin's family pictures of horse and trap. Picture: Supplied by Donna Hicklin family to South Beds News AgencyDonna Hicklin's family pictures of horse and trap. Picture: Supplied by Donna Hicklin family to South Beds News Agency

She added she was “devastated” by what happened and had not driven since.

Her defence Jeremy Wainwright QC said: “She wishes me to repeat how sorry she is for the deceased and their families. She has genuine remorse.”

Judge Richard Foster, summing up, said: “This tragedy happened when you were driving around or perhaps a little under the speed limit of 50 miles per hour and moved to the left hand lane to go straight ahead, assuming they were turning right.

“Unknown to you, the horse and trap was in that lane. It was travelling at 20 miles per hour or slightly less. Within half a second you collided with the rear of the horse and cart.“

While Judge Foster said there was nothing to bring the two people who died back, he told Ms Richards: “The greatest punishment for you is the knowledge that for the rest of your life you will know you caused the death of Michael Bates and Donna Hicklin. You will have to live with that. “

He added that there were two deaths and two families had been torn apart.

The judge sentenced her to six months in jail suspended for 18 months. She must carry out 100 hours’ unpaid work and abide by a curfew between 9pm and 6am for 3 month. She has also been banned from driving for 12 months and must take an extended re-test.

Mr Bates’ son George said in a victim statement he was “haunted” by the images of seeing his dad in the Middlesex hospital where he died.

His partner, and mother of his two children, Melissa Vyse, said: “I have lost the man who rang me 100 times a day. Our lives have been turned upside down. I cannot believe I won’t see him again, that my children won’t see him again. Michael was a funny, fun-loving man.”

After the case Donna’s sister Shirley said: “Her life was horses – that was everything. Our whole life got turned upside down when we lost our beloved sister, daughter, auntie and granddaughter.

“I just hope people learn to slow down at these roads, when they see horses, and less lives are lost.”

Lisa Hicklin, Donna’s mother, said life would never be the same again and her whole world had come tumbling down.


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