Driver guilty of killing his four children

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The Independent Online

A father was found guilty today of causing the deaths of four of his children when his Land Rover plunged into a river.

Nigel Gresham was behind the wheel when he crashed into the River Witham, Lincolnshire, in September last year.

Willow, two, Angel, four, Thor, six, and eight-year-old Keavy were passengers in the four-wheel-drive car and died after the crash at Tattershall Bridge.

Gresham, 37, formerly of Chapel Hill, Lincs, was convicted of causing their deaths by dangerous driving following a trial at Lincoln Crown Court.

The court was told he was driving too fast and his vehicle was not roadworthy.

Gresham stood with head bowed and a number of people wept in the public gallery as the jury delivered unanimous guilty verdicts on all four counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

Judge Michael Heath told the defendant he would adjourn the case until January 23 at 10am so a pre-sentence report could be prepared by the probation service.

He said: "You can have bail on the same terms. Of course, the fact that I grant you bail does not mean you will not go to prison. One of the reasons I grant you bail is so you can make the appropriate preparations.

"In any event, I am going to have to disqualify you from driving.

"You are now prohibited from driving any motor vehicle on a road from this moment."

Speaking outside court after the trial, Sara Bolland, the mother of the dead children, said: "I don't think it matters what happened in the trial, I will never get to see or feel my sweet babies again. Nothing now will ever bring them back.

"It doesn't matter how angry I am, it won't bring my babies back. Now all I ask is that we be left in peace to try to rebuild our lives to the best of our ability."

Commenting after the verdict, senior investigating officer Sergeant Dave Kay, of Lincolnshire Police, said he welcomed the jury's decision.

He said: "However, there is no joy or celebration, as four innocent young children lost their lives and a family has been left completely devastated.

"I want to send a powerful message to all drivers about taking responsibility when behind the wheel. That is both in the way they drive and the maintenance of their vehicle. Drivers have a responsibility to themselves, their passengers and anyone who may be affected by their acts or omissions.

"I do not believe that Nigel Gresham intended to cause his family harm on that fateful day. However, he was reckless in that he was fully aware of the state of his vehicle and should never have placed his family in such danger.

"He now has time to reflect on his actions or indeed his inaction."

The decision to prosecute Gresham was not taken lightly, said Lincolnshire Crown Prosecutor Jaswant Kaur Narwal.

Miss Narwal said: "This is a very sad case and we spent a great deal of time reviewing the evidence and considering the public interest before making the decision to prosecute.

"It was not a decision which was taken lightly, given the tragic deaths of Mr Gresham's four children and the loss he suffered as their father."

She said the CPS had received expert reports on the state of the Land Rover which made clear that the vehicle was not roadworthy and that a "careful and competent" driver would know it was dangerous to drive.

She added: "Once we were satisfied there was sufficient evidence for a case to go to court, we then looked at whether it was in the public interest for the case to go ahead.

"In the past, the approach was that the drive had suffered such a great personal loss that it would be oppressive or insensitive to prosecute the driver for the bad driving offence which led to the death, unless the circumstances were such that a prosecution was necessary.

"The decision now is that a prosecution would normally take place in cases of causing death by dangerous driving subject to circumstances that would make it oppressive or insensitive."