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Sat nav failed to spot fatal crash junction, court told
A DEVOTED father was driving his family to a North-East beauty spot when his satellite navigation system failed to warn him of a crossroads and he hit a cyclist, causing him fatal injuries, a court heard.
Steven James Conlan was relying on his sat nav to guide him, his wife and their two children to High Force, in County Durham, as he had removed his road atlas from his Saab 93 a few days before to prepare the car for its MOT, Peterlee Magistrates’ Court was told.
However, as Conlan was driving west on the A692 near Consett, the technology failed to register a junction with the A68 and he struck 55-year-old Grahame McGregor, sending the cyclist flying across the road onto a footpath.
Mr McGregor, of Thornton Close, Pelton, near Chester-le-Street, suffered serious injuries and died in hospital five days later.
Conlan’s lawyer, Kate Meek, said the sat nav had recalibrated itself a few moments before the crash, having given an erroneous instruction.
However, it remained silent about the A68 crossroads.
Conlan suffered a momentary lapse of concentration and made a terrible error of judgement which had devastating consequences, Ms Meek continued.
The 51-year-old is a trustworthy, loving, decent man, a devoted husband and father and a great friend and the burden of bearing responsibility for Mr McGregor’s death would weigh heavily on his conscience for the rest of his life, she said.
Mr McGregor was a keen cyclist who covered about 9,000 miles a year, the court heard.
In a statement, his parents said they had had to bury their only son in the prime of his life but they accepted he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and “accidents happen”.
In a further statement, his sister Linda Williams said the devastating loss had blown the family apart and urged the authorities to make the junction safer.
Prosecutor Lynne Roberts-Plowman, however, said there were several signs warning vehicles on the A692 to stop at the junction.
Conlan, of Wood Terrace, Gateshead, admitted causing death by careless driving. He will be sentenced later this month.