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Detective who lied about fatal crash is jailed.

A former police officer was jailed for six years yesterday for causing a motorway crash in which a pensioner died.

Craig Hewlett (37) had been drinking at a leaving party for a colleague at a pub in Cheltenham for a number of hours before the accident happened on the M5 near Stroud in Gloucester.

Hewlett, who resigned from his post as a detective constable with the Gloucestershire force only last week, admitted causing the death of 80-year-old Mr Tony Bent, of Stoke-on-Trent.

Judge John Foley, sitting at Bristol Crown Court, told him: 'No sentence, no matter how severe, will ever bring back to life the deceased.'

He said he had to take into account his 'gross failure of concentration' on the motorway, which resulted in the 'truly catastrophic' accident.

He was also taking into account the fact Hewlett had lied to investigating officers shortly after he was arrested by saying his car had been stolen.

Mr Jeremy Donne, prosecuting, said Hewlett's Peugeot car collided with an articulated tanker while travelling down the hard shoulder of the M5 on February 19 last year.

He said the tanker then turned over and slid across all three lanes of the motorway before it was hit by the Mercedes car in which Mr Bent was travelling as a back-seat passenger.

Mr Donne said Mr Bent was certified dead at the scene by a doctor. His wife, Daisy, was taken to hospital with a range of injuries along with his daughter, Mrs Linda Smith, and his son-in-law, Mr Thomas Smith, who was driving.

The court heard 78-year-old Mrs Bent's condition worsened in hospital when she contracted a flesh-eating disease in her legs which has left her housebound.

Mr Donne told the court Hewlett, of Dursley, Gloucestershire, who had served for 19 years as an officer in Gloucestershire, fled the scene and telephoned for a taxi at the nearby village of Hardwicke.

He said Hewlett was taken back to Cheltenham by the cab, where he rejoined the leaving party before staying at a friend's house in Gloucester.

When he was finally tracked down and arrested, he was found to be over twice the drink-drive limit, although Mr Donne conceded he had been drinking after he returned to Cheltenham.

Mr Donne said Hewlett had started drinking at about 4pm and the accident had happened at 10pm as Hewlett made his way home.

'The defendant accepts that it was his dangerous driving that resulted in the death of that man,' said Mr Donne.

Mr Peter Doyle, defending, said Hewlett did not remember the crash.

'Mr Hewlett wishes it to be known, and hopes that it will be accepted as genuine, that whatever his concerns for his own protection this morning, must rank second to the feelings of the family whose loss, it is acknowledged, is irreplaceable.'

He said Hewlett had begun to rebuild his life, taking a course to help adults with special educational needs.

Det Insp Peter Davies, who said he had known Hewlett for 19 years, told the court he found him a courageous officer.

Hewlett had pleaded not guilty to a second charge of perverting the course of justice and Judge Foley ordered this to lie on file.

After the hearing, relatives paid tribute to retired merchant seaman Mr Bent.

Mr Nick Davies, married to Mr Bent's grand-daughter, said: 'The relatives are satisfied that justice has been done here today.

'The defendant has admitted causing the death of a beloved father, grandfather and husband.'

Supt Adrian Grimmitt, of Gloucestershire Police, said: 'We deplore the circumstances of this offence and the sentence imposed by this court reflects that.'
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Author:Ross, Anne Marie
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 9, 2000
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