Road-test engineer jailed for causing death crash

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The Independent Online
An engineer was yesterday jailed for five months and banned from driving for two years for causing the death by dangerous driving of a motorist while road-testing a car.

Klaus Menk, 47, a steering engineer with General Motors Europe, was told by Recorder Alan Wilkie QC at Luton Crown Court that he had been guilty of a "single, momentary gross misjudgement" which had caused the death of Richard Longworth in January this year.

Menk, from Frankfurt, was overtaking a car on a badly lit country road when he crashed head-on with Mr Longworth, 39, the editor of Get Motoring magazine.

Mr Recorder Wilkie also said that he hoped General Motors would reconsider the merits of road-testing cars on busy roads at night.

His comments were welcomed by Mr Longworth's girlfriend Mary Williams who founded the Brake road safety organisation after her mother was killed in a road accident. But she hit out at the sentence saying it was just one-twentieth of the maximum penalty of 10 years for causing death by dangerous driving and sent out the wrong messages to reckless drivers.

Menk was found guilty last month of causing Mr Longworth's death. Sentence had been deferred until yesterday.

He was one of three General Motors engineers who were test-driving cars on a 10-mile circuit of public roads used by the company.

Mr Recorder Wilkie said that both he and the jury felt that Menk's driving had fallen well below what was expected.