A RECKLESS motorist who was speeding in the dark on “autopilot” when he killed a Kidderminster ambulance medic has been jailed.
Paul Bird, 45, was travelling at excess speed along a country lane when he ploughed his Lexus into a vehicle being driven by Gavin Hunt, 52, on February 2 last year.
A court heard he hit speeds of almost 50mph in a 30mph zone before he failed to stop at a junction in the village of Clow Tops at around 7.30pm.
Mr Hunt, who had worked as an emergency medical technician for West Midlands Ambulance Service for over 20 years, was pronounced dead at the scene.
His wife Alison Hunt was also seriously hurt and suffered a fractured pelvis and pubic bone. Two vertebrae were also separated at the top of her neck.
Bird, of Warndon Villages in Worcester, admitted causing death by dangerous driving as well as causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
On Monday, January 21 he was jailed for four-and-a-half years and disqualified from driving for two and a half years at Worcester Crown Court.
Sentencing, Judge Nicholas Cartwright said: “You have demonstrated that you were a hardworking family man with many positive aspects to your character.
“You did not start out to drive dangerously but that is what you did.
“You failed to give way at this crossroads despite the fact there was a busy A-road running across it.
“There were three signs warning of the junction and a give way sign at the junction.
“It was only as you were right at the junction you began to brake, having realised you had failed to give way. You created a substantial risk of danger.”
The court was told how Bird was on his way home from work but ended up on an unfamiliar road prior to the crash.
Paul Whitfield, prosecuting, said the defendant was travelling at 37.9mph when his car struck the vehicle – but had been going as fast as 49mph, despite the limit being 30.
The court heard when Mr Hunt was not working Friday nights, he and his wife would go for a meal at the Colliers Arms pub and were on their way home on the night.
In a statement read out in court by Mr Whitfield, Mrs Hunt said she had been “left feeling a failure” after the death of her husband.
She said: “We loved each other unconditionally. He was loved by everyone who came across him.
“I feel vulnerable and scared of my future. I don’t live, I just exist.”
Mark Lister, defending, said his client “can’t explain why what happened, happened”.
He added: “But perhaps his statement about being on ‘autopilot’ is the only explanation.”
Following his death Mr Hunt’s family and colleagues paid tribute to the popular ambulance worker, who did not take one day off sick since joining the service in 1997.
In a statement Alison, his brother Andrew and sister Lisa said: “Gavin loved the work that he did and dedicated his working life to helping others.
“Through his work he made many friends and he became a familiar and welcome face to people in Kidderminster and the surrounding areas.
“We are extremely grateful for the efforts of Gavin’s colleagues and friends when trying to save his life in what must have been extremely difficult circumstances for all concerned.
“He is not only a loss to us and his colleagues, but a loss to the whole community in which he served.”
Trust chief executive Anthony Marsh said: “Gavin was taken away from his family, friends, colleagues and the community he served so faithfully, far too soon.
“I saw, first hand not only how deeply upset staff were at the scene but also how incredibly hard and professionally they worked with police and fire colleagues at this immensely difficult incident. Together, they truly did all they could to save Gavin’s life.
“Talking to staff, I know just how much of a well-respected member of the ambulance family in Kidderminster he was; he will be greatly missed.”