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Van driver, 54, is jailed after killing motorcyclist, 30 – 15 years after he mowed down boy, 13

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A driver who escaped with a six-month jail sentence for killing a 13-year-old boy in a hit and run crash has been jailed again after going on to kill another man whilst using his phone at the wheel.

Kurt Sammon, 54, was jailed for seven years today for causing the death by dangerous driving of motorcyclist Louis McGovern, 30, at the Manchester Airport Eastern Link Road, in Stockport, Greater Manchester.  

Sammon had jumped a red light in the evening rush hour whilst fielding an incoming call on his handsfree device when he hit Mr McGovern with his red Ford Transit van on January 15 2019 at 5.40pm.

Engineer Mr McGovern, who was travelling on his Suzuki motorbike through a green light, suffered multiple injuries in the impact and died the following day in hospital. 

A court heard Sammon had ‘one of the worst driving records ever seen’ by prosecutors.

In 2004 he hit and killed 13-year-old Michael Weaver who was picking up a pizza with his family.

Sammon, who now runs a car valeting company, was convicted of failing to stop after he hit Mr Weaver while driving a Volvo 460 with no valid insurance or MOT. 

Kurt Sammon, 54, (pictured) was jailed for seven years today for causing the death by dangerous driving of motorcyclist Louis McGovern, 30

The schoolboy was mowed down at 43mph, and died almost instantly after suffering serious injuries to his ribs, a broken back and severed spinal chord.

Following the crash Sammon drove off and dumped the car two miles away.

He was initially charged with the more serious charge of causing Mr Weaver’s death by dangerous driving but the charge was dropped after a key witness disappeared.

Sammon had been drinking the heroin substitute methadone shortly before the tragedy, and said he had been ‘in a bad way’ after an argument with his boss at work. 

Police who arrested him discovered he had a record dating back to 1982 including driving whilst disqualified. 

He admitted lesser offences of failing to stop and report an accident, and having no insurance or MOT and is thought to have served just three months before being freed. 

Louis McGovern with partner Lauren James who gave a statement in court saying the couple had 'discussed having children'

Louis McGovern with partner Lauren James who gave a statement in court saying the couple had ‘discussed having children’

Less than five minutes before hitting McGovern (above), Kurt Sammon sent a WhatsApp message, received one himself and took a call on his phone

Less than five minutes before hitting McGovern (above), Kurt Sammon sent a WhatsApp message, received one himself and took a call on his phone

Louis McGovern’s partner Lauren James’ statement:

Today in a statement Mr McGovern’s partner Lauren James said: ‘Louis had told his mates he was going to propose to me on a mountain and I would have undoubtedly said yes without any hesitation. We discussed having children and having our own family. 

‘On the night, he text me to say he had finished work and was leaving. He was late getting home and I was wondering what was keeping him. I tried to ring him but he didn’t answer. I rang my Mum and she tried to reassure me. In the end, I decided to drive the route he would have driven home because I was so worried. I saw the police and I worried it might have been him.

‘The officer there at the time said there had been an accident but said to me not to worry but I knew he had been involved I contacted his parents on the way to the hospital and at first I had some hope he was going to be okay. But then the doctors said there was nothing for they could do for him.

‘I sat with him and held his hand as he died the following day. I was in a state of utter shock. I have since lost a lot of weight and I still have broken and affected sleep to this day. I was so happy with him, he was my best friend.

‘There seems to be no remorse from the man that killed him. This should never have happened. This man should not have had a licence to drive.’

At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Sammon of Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, was convicted of causing Mr McGovern’s death by dangerous driving. He was also banned from driving for 13 and a half years. 

Prosecutor Robert Hall said Sammon may have been ‘distracted’ by using his phone, with call data showing he received calls during the journey.   

‘There is no dispute he had been using his mobile phone but he says he was using the phone on handsfree,’ he said. 

The crash took place at 5.40pm, with Sammon receiving an incoming call lasting 57 seconds at 5.39pm and 30 seconds, the prosecutor said.

He also sent and received two Whatsapp messages in the minutes before the crash, the court heard.

Mr Hall added: ‘At 5.41pm and 40 seconds, the traffic lights turned to red at a time Mr Sammon’s van was travelling at 24mph. He could have stopped, there was enough time and distance to have stopped prior to the junction.

‘If he looked to his right a view of the traffic would have been available to him. It’s also agreed the junction was well illuminated and it’s agreed that there were no vehicles or environmental factors that would have obstructed Mr Sammon’s view of the eight traffic lights.

‘But his van collided with the motorcycle and Mr McGovern was not presented with a realistic opportunity to avoid the collision. The van showed no evidence of emergency braking and Mr McGovern became trapped underneath the vehicle.

‘A member of the emergency service who attended the scene went over to Mr Sammon to see if he was ok. He said “I was just going to do a quote for a job, I did not see him.” He appeared dazed.

‘He said: “I was travelling on the A523 from Cheadle heath to the traffic light junction on the A555. My traffic lights were on green, I did not see the motorcyclist. Someone told me he was under my van”.’

‘It is not suggested that the motorcycle was being ridden inappropriately for the road or the conditions. At the time of the collision, the traffic light controlling Mr Sammons was on red for 4.8 seconds.’

Mr McGovern was taken to Salford Hospital where doctors tried in vain to save him after he suffered a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, 16 rib fractures as well as lacerations to the spleen and kidneys.

Kurt Sammon escaped with six-month jail sentence after leaving 13-year old Michael Weaver (pictured) to die a hit and run crash in 2004

Kurt Sammon escaped with six-month jail sentence after leaving 13-year old Michael Weaver (pictured) to die a hit and run crash in 2004

Sammon was arrested that evening. He claimed he was familiar with the junction and tried to blame Mr McGovern whom he accused of speeding.

He said he had been using his handsfree Bluetooth kit but also said he only used his phone when his car was stationary.

He said he didn’t see the motorcycle until all of a sudden ‘the motorcyclist hit my van’ but couldn’t give an explanation as to why he didn’t see the red light. 

A toxicology report found that no alcohol or drugs in his system.

Sammon denied causing death by dangerous driving but admitted causing death by careless driving. 

Prosecutors told jurors at Minshull Street Crown Court that Sammon has 'one of the worst driving records ever'

Prosecutors told jurors at Minshull Street Crown Court that Sammon has ‘one of the worst driving records ever’

He has a record dating back to 1982 for road offences including driving whilst disqualified, failing to stop after an accident, having no MoT or insurance and using a phone whilst driving.

In a letter to the court he said: ‘The impact of this has meant my own relationship of 28 years has broken up. I am a carer for my mother and worry how this will affect her.

‘This has caused me a great deal of distress. I am extremely sorry. I still believe I was not driving dangerously that evening but because of my actions someone has been lost and for that I am truly sorry. I pray the family have peace and comfort.’ 

Sentencing Judge Maurice Greene told Sammon: ‘Louis had achieved a lot in his life. He had graduated with a Masters and was an engineer. He had a loving nature, empathy and was thoughtful towards others.

‘I do not accept that you stopped every time you received a WhatsApp message. You said you used a Bluetooth connection to make a telephone call. However, the evidence was found that it was disconnected and that it could not have turned itself off on its own. I am satisfied you were using this phone unlawfully by holding it in your hand. You had time to stop your vehicle if you had been paying attention.

‘You were grossly distracted at the time and you had driven a significant distance whilst using a phone and using WhatsApp. You are 55 and have an appalling driving record.’

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