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Truck driver mistook pedestrian for "roll of carpet" in fatal Guildford crash

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Truck driver mistook pedestrian for "roll of carpet" in fatal Guildford crash

Published at 10:02am 18th April 2018. (Updated at 3:21pm 19th April 2018)

A truck driver who drove over a pedestrian he mistook for a roll of carpet in Guildford has been jailed for causing death by careless driving.

Sean Denham from Allen Road in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, drove off after running over 22-year-old Mark O’Donnell with his recovery vehicle.

Mr O’Donnell died from serious head injuries.

The victim had been lying in the road before he was hit by Denham’s vehicle at around 3am on 20 August 2016 in Portsmouth Road, Guildford.

Denham later told police he had seen something in the road but thought it was a piece of rubbish or a roll of carpet that had fallen from the back of a lorry.

Denham denied causing death by careless driving but was found guilty following a trial at Guildford Crown Court in March.

In a statement read out in court the family of Mark O’Donnell said: “We saw our son two nights before he was killed.

Little did we know it was to be the last time we saw him alive. Thankfully it was a night of fun and laughter. Our family celebrated his mother’s 50th birthday at home with a BBQ.

"Having just passed his driving test Mark delighted in telling us about his first car, his commute to work, his new freedom.

"All the time quietly assuring his mother he was being careful. Mark knew how to ease the worries of others. He told us of the planned future trips abroad and the new apartment he was going to move into with friends. That night we were as happy as a family could be.

“As a father I was thrilled with the man my son had become. I was content, a word I can only truly appreciate now.  He had developed into the man I wished and hoped he would be. He was never in any trouble. He was very intelligent but never aloof, always patient and forgiving, honest and open. He was easy going, happy, friendly, and kind; with an empathy and personality that endeared him to everybody he met. We were lucky parents.

“Two days later our family was violently torn apart.”

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