'Lives were changed' - Man spared jail after crash which killed two women

The crash closed the road in both directions. Picture: Ryan Hacon

The crash closed the road in both directions. Picture: Ryan Hacon - Credit: Archant

A "hard-working family man" has been spared an immediate prison sentence after his careless driving caused the deaths of two women on the A47.

Simon Nortcliffe, 53, had been driving a Fiat Ducato van towards Great Yarmouth on March 2, 2020, on the Acle Straight near Mautby when he crashed head-on with a Nissan Micra being driven by Myra Green.

Both Ms Green, 78, who previously owned Fritton Post Office before becoming a mobile hairdresser, and her passenger Mary Matthews, both from Beighton, died as a result of their injuries.

Nortcliffe, of Whitchurch, Shropshire, had previously entered guilty pleas to causing death by careless driving, with Norwich Crown Court hearing he made "no attempt to brake" or to return to his lane after entering the oncoming carriageway for around three seconds.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mrs Matthews' husband Edgar Matthews said: "When Mary agreed to marry me I felt as though I had been swept off my feet.

"Out of the blue, two weeks before this accident, she said this was the happiest she had been in our 25 years together, and I knew that was from the heart.

"The impact this disaster has had is unimaginable and we have lost not only a loving wife and mother, but also a neighbour and dear friend in Myra.

"It is a hard and bitter pill to swallow, but we hold no animosity towards the one responsible."

Nortcliffe stood trial last month at Norwich Crown Court charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but a jury was discharged last month after failing to reach a verdict, despite deliberating for more than nine hours, with prosecutors deciding against pursuing a retrial.

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Nortcliffe, who had a clean driving licence and no previous convictions, returned to the court on Friday, April 30, where Judge Katharine Moore handed him a prison sentence of 20 weeks, suspended for two years, as well as disqualifying him from driving for 12 months.

John Morgans, for Nortcliffe, told the court: "So many lives were changed as a result of that day.

"This is the sort of thing that could happen to anyone and if it were not for a distraction which could have been as short as one second, he would not be in any court."