Woman caused boyfriend’s death after misreading traffic light and driving into lorry

A young driver caused her boyfriend’s death in a tragic crash after misreading a traffic light signal as she gave him at lift to work at an airport hotel.

Hannah Sisson, 24, was turning right into East Midlands Airport entrance in Leicestershire when she collided with an oncoming lorry.

Her 25-year-old partner James Pittham, who was in the front passenger seat, died at the scene.

Leicester Crown Court heard how his parents were devastated by their son’s death but felt Sisson had been punishing herself ever since and was “suffering enough”, according to Birmingham Live.

Her sentencing hearing was told how Sisson had been taking her boyfriend to work to begin his shift as an inn night manager when she crashed into the lorry.

The court heard she wrongly thought a right hand filter lane at the junction had turned green.

But the green light was meant only to indicate forward moving traffic could continue straight ahead – but Sisson believed it also allowed her to turn right.

Neil Bannister, prosecuting, said an HGV tipper truck approaching on the other side of the road had slowed down for the red lights, which then turned green in his favour and he continued onwards.

He said: “The lorry correctly came through the junction and the driver had no time to react and the inevitable collision occurred, impacting with the Peugeot’s nearside at 37mph.

“James was tragically killed. The defendant suffered a punctured lung with fractures to nine ribs, her left wrist and pelvis. She was in hospital for two weeks.”

In interview, Sisson recalled waiting for the green signal and believing she saw the green arrow come on and went to turn.

Sisson and her partner, from Derby, had earlier spent the day in the city together.

They also visited James’s parents and went home for a meal before setting off to his workplace.

She admitted causing Mr Pittham’s death by carelessly driving a Peugeot 107 on the A453 Ashby Road at 10.35pm on Tuesday January 21 last year.

James’ father, in a personal impact statement read out in court, said he and his wife and everyone in their “large family” were struggling to come to terms with the loss which had left a big hole in their lives.

He stated: “Since James died, he’s been missed terribly.

“He used to help us at home and family days will never be the same again.

“We’re very aware the collision has had a massive effect on Hannah, she’s suffered drastically.

“She hasn’t done anything on purpose and we feel she’s suffered enough and will punish herself and has done ever since, far more than any court sentence.

“My wife and I support Hannah and hope to continue a relationship with her and keep in contact.”

Mr Bannister said the driver of the lorry contacted the witness service to pass on his condolences to James’s family and the defendant.

The prosecutor said: “He hopes she is recovering from her injuries and wishes her well for today’s hearing and the future.

“He still has concerns about the incident and is of the view ‘it was a lapse that had a devastating outcome.’ “

The court heard Sisson, of Derby, held a full driving licence since 2017 and had no previous convictions, other
than one speeding conviction, in 2018.

James Varley, mitigating, said: “She didn’t take a risk, she made a mistake and believed she saw a green light, but faced with a thorough investigation accepts she was wrong.

“On that day everybody lost a much loved young man.

“She will have, in the prison of her own mind, that mistake forever.

“I don’t know what the court can do to punish her more than she’ll do herself.”

Sisson has since returned to her job in adolescent mental health services, the court was told.

Sentencing, Recorder Graham Huston said: “You must have misinterpreted the straight ahead traffic signal for the turn right signal and effectively drove through a red light by mistake.

“You also drove into the path of an oncoming lorry which would have been obvious, because of the speed of the lorry it was not going to stop, whatever the light was signaling.

“I think you were in auto pilot mode.”

The recorder said of James’s parents: “Their generosity of feeling towards you is heartwarming and it demonstrates they understand your feelings as well as their own.

“They appreciate you will carry this with your for the rest of your life and they feel you’ve suffered enough.

“It’s so tragic and sad that through this single momentary lapse the terrible consequences of James’ death arises.

“I accept you weren’t in a hurry and weren’t preoccupied.”

Sisson was placed on a 12 month community order and banned from driving for one year.

The recorder said although the traffic lights were working correctly at the scene, he asked for the police to review the positioning of signs at that junction to consider if improvements could be made.