Van driver who killed two pedestrians as he "raced the lights" in Carlisle jailed for 18 months

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A van driver who killed two pedestrians as he "raced the lights" in central Carlisle has been jailed for 18 months.

Marc Large, 49, from Sunderland was convicted of causing their deaths by careless driving at Carlisle Crown Court last month.

Terry Abson, 62, died at the scene on West Tower Street in March 2021. His partner, Gina Lands, 56, passed away in hospital seven days later.

Large must serve a two-year driving ban when released from custody.

He went on trial in February. He denied two charges of causing the deaths of Mr Abson and Miss Lands by careless driving.

Jurors heard at the time he was on a phone call — in a vehicle fitted with a hands-free system — which ended four seconds after the fatal collision.

Two sisters on board a bus told how they watched the tragedy unfold just metres away, hearing a “massive bang”. One sister heard Large screaming “what have I done?” in the immediate aftermath.

Large did not give evidence during his trial. He had provided a prepared statement when interviewed, saying that his visual field was affected by glaring sun and recalling that he carried out emergency stop braking. He denied being distracted and had stated: “I really can’t explain how this collision occurred as I never saw the couple until a split second before I hit them.”

A police collision investigator had concluded sunlight would not have affected Large’s ability to see pedestrians. The officer had not found any skid marks on the carriageway surface and said the couple were on the road for about five seconds.

CCTV showed traffic lights for motorists were on amber as Large, of Gleneagles Road, Sunderland, approached the crossing.

The son of the couple killed in the incident has paid tribute to them.

Harley Abson said: "My father was a kind and jolly man, with a near iron will; nearly always happy, with a great big, often mischievous smile that could light up any room.

"My mother was loving, wilful, creative, and rather imaginative. When I was younger she would create her own bedtime stories to tell me and others when there was a sleepover with our neighbours at the time.

“This incident has naturally been the worst and hardest time in my life, and probably will remain as such until the time I depart myself.

“At the very least I would hope it is, as I cannot imagine what could be worse. I've lost my parents, my best friends, my confidants, and in large parts my ambition and motivation. So much of my life revolved around them; even my hobbies were, in part, enjoyed through being able to share them with my parents.”

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