Driver who ‘thought he hit a bottle’ escapes jail after killing man

Syful Alom.

Syful Alom. - Credit: Archant

The family of a man who was killed in a ‘catastrophic’ accident in Weston-super-Mare have praised the people who fought for hours to save his life.

Floral tributes to the young hit and run victim Syful Alom.

Floral tributes to the young hit and run victim Syful Alom. - Credit: Archant

Delivery driver Benjamin Newson has this week been spared jail for his role in Syful Alom’s death in the town centre last February.

Newson, aged 42, was reversing into Cambridge Place – the alleyway between High Street and North Street – when he knocked down and crushed Mr Alom with his Mercedes van.

Newson, of Grove Road, thought he ‘hit a bottle’ and completed his delivery job before leaving the scene, as passers-by cared for Mr Alom.

Paramedics were called but the 31-year-old from Banwell died in the alleyway two hours later.

Newson pleaded guilty to causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving and was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on January 8.

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Judge Julian Lambert said the punishment was ‘not in any way to measure the value of human life’ as he handed Newson a six-month suspended sentence.

Mr Alom was originally from Bangladesh, but had lived in the UK for seven years. The court heard of the devastating impact his death has had on his family, particularly on his mother, brother and sister-in-law, who he provided for back in Bangladesh.

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Brother-in-law Lucky Miah told the Mercury: “He was a good man. When you lose someone you just don’t know what to say or what to do. Nothing is going to bring him back.

“We would like to thank the community, the people who were there at the time, who were trying to save him.

“They tried for a couple of hours to bring him back. We never saw them but we would like to thank them.”

At the time of the incident Newson was coming to the end of a 12-hour shift, having delivered around 80 of his 100 parcels.

He told police he saw Mr Alom walking down North Street on his phone before he reversed into Cambridge Place.

Prosecuting, Rachel Drake, told the court conditions were good and it was daylight when Newson then hit Mr Alom.

She told the court: “He said he reversed over something like a bottle and so stopped and drove forward.

“He got out of the van and became aware of a man with blood on his head. He didn’t offer assistance but continued with his job.”

Newson returned after collecting a parcel.

Ms Drake added: “The defendant appeared calm and got into his van.

“He did not drive off immediately but neither did he offer any assistance to Mr Alom or remain at the scene to speak with emergency services.”

Newson was arrested the next day when his van triggered an automatic number plate recognition camera.

Mitigating, Ramin Pakrooh, said: “He was readily seen, his registration number was seen. He didn’t leave Mr Alom alone with no-one to care for him, the emergency services had been called.

“There was an element of him simply being in denial and failing to accept the reality of what he had just done.”

Mr Pakrooh said Newson intended to hand himself in to police but was arrested before he got chance, and added: “Overnight he reflected on what had taken place and the next day he realised the severity of what was taking place when news reports started circulating.”

Newson was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, with a curfew from 8pm-5am. He was also ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Lambert described the incident as a momentary lapse in concentration which gave rise to ‘the most catastrophic consequences’.

He said: “Those who have lost a loved one in a tragedy such as this are bound to feel no punishment, however severe it might be, could compare to anything they have gone through.

“The whole court process may seem entirely hollow to those who have suffered such a horrible loss.”

Editor’s note:

In the January 8 paper edition of the Mercury, in the story titled ‘“I thought it was a bottle...” Driver’s denial after man died’ the incorrect charge was printed.

The story, which began on page one and continued on page five, incorrectly said Benjamin Newson, aged 42, of Grove Road, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

The incorrect charge was also briefly published on our website on a previous version of this story.

The correct charge was causing death by careless driving, as amended above.

The Mercury would like to apologise to Mr Newson for the error.

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