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Van driver jailed for causing death of grandfather in Aylesham crash

By lowristafford  |  Posted: December 05, 2012

MISSED: Kenneth Milburn, 64, was looking forward to his retirement when he died in a crash near Aylesham

MISSED: Kenneth Milburn, 64, was looking forward to his retirement when he died in a crash near Aylesham

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A VAN driver who killed a popular grandfather in a head-on horror smash near Aylesham last November has been jailed.

Tihomir Todorov was one week into his job as a delivery driver when he ploughed into Mr Milburn's Ford Focus on the B2046 at the junction with The Street, Womenswold.

Mr Milburn's car burst into flames, and despite the efforts of passers-by and paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The 64-year-old, of Hill Crescent, was just months away from retiring from his job as a delivery driver, and had planned to spend more time with his four grandchildren.

But his life was cut short by Todorov, who was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Tuesday (Dec 4) after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving.

The court heard Todorov, 29, was driving along the B2046 Adisham Road in his Ford Transit van at 7.30am on November 10 last year, when he took his eyes off the road in a "tiny moment of inattention".

He failed to see the silver Peugeot ahead had stopped at a crossroads, and to avoid hitting it, made a "split second" decision to swerve to the right - and into the path of oncoming traffic.

But tragically, Mr Milburn, was travelling in the other direction on his way to work, and the vehicles collided.

Prosecuting, Denzil Pugh said: "Todorov did see the car, but it was too late. He was confronted with a choice about whether to go left into the car or right into the oncoming carriageway.

"It was at that time when Kenneth Milburn was driving in the other direction.

"If he had been paying attention at all times, he would have seen the parked Peugeot and stopped. But by the time he did see it a second later, it was too late."

When interviewed, Todorov told police he did not see the car in front indicating to turn right into The Street, but acknowledged his reactions were too late.

Defending Todorov, John O'Higgins said his client was driving at an appropriate speed for the road and conditions, and approaching a "difficult" junction for drivers unfamiliar with that road.

He said: "We all miss things when we drive along. This is a case where a reasonable driver had a short period of inattention on an unfamiliar road.

"That short period put that driver in a position where it was too late and he couldn't safely deal with the situation that presented itself."

Mr O'Higgins added that Todorov was a man of good character who had a clean driving licence and had shown remorse.

In a letter to Mr Milburn's family read to court, Todorov, a Bulgarian national, said: "I'm so sorry for what happened. There's not a single day goes by that I do not think about it.

"This has caused great mourning for me and my family as well. I will never forgive myself and I'm taking full responsibility for what happened.

"I'm not a bad person. Please understand that this was a tragic incident and not something I intended on doing. I'm so sorry and hope you can forgive me."

But Judge Michael O'Sullivan said Todorov's careless driving arose from "more than a momentary indiscretion".

Passing sentence, he told him: "You should have seen the vehicle turning right much earlier. For whatever reason, your attention was elsewhere. When you did see the car in front of you, it was too late.

"Your inattention was the sole cause of the death of Mr Milburn. His family are devastated by what has happened. He was about to retire and spend more time with his grandchildren and enjoy the fruits of his lifelong labours.

"This is tragedy upon tragedy and no sentence that this court can impose will take away the family's pain and loss."

He sentenced Todorov to six months in jail and disqualified him from driving for three years.

An inquest into Mr Milburn's death was opened by coroner Rebecca Cobb in July, and adjourned until after the court case.

Read the full story, with reaction and tributes from Mr Milburn's family, in the Canterbury Times - out tomorrow.

Read more from Kent and Sussex Courier

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