An Oldham courier who killed a ‘hero and one in a billion’ policeman after losing concentration while driving his lorry was jailed for two years and nine months today.
PC Mark Goodlad, 41, had pulled over to help a woman replace a flat tyre on the southbound carriageway of the M1 last October when he was fatally injured as Andrew Abernethy’s truck crashed into him.
Abernethy, 45, of Rembrandt Walk, Moorside, admitted to causing death by dangerous driving after he itched his eye and had a lapse of concentration – but officers believed the accident was a result of him falling asleep at the wheel.
There was no evidence to back the police’s theory so Judge Scott Wolstenholme was forced to sentence Abernethy for killing the father-of-one by his account of the crash.
He said: “You were not paying attention to the road for a considerable period of time in driving terms all the while trundling along in an enormous truck at 50mph.
“This would have been obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.”
Leeds Crown Court heard how PC Goodlad had pulled over to help 51-year-old motorist Sharon Burgess to change her flat tyre.
His marked BMW X5 police car was flashing his emergency blue lights while he did so, but Abernethy’s lorry drove straight into both vehicles on the hard shoulder.
Mrs Burgess suffered minor physical injuries, but the court heard how she was now battling severe mental trauma.
PC Goodlad leaves his wife Helen and 15-year-old son behind – and a statement was read out on their behalf following the sentence.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Atkinson read: “The past 13 months have been agonising and today has been no different, though it does at least bring some closure for myself, my family and Mark’s family.
“We all know that Mr Abernethy did not set out that day with the intention of taking a life but it is without doubt that he is solely responsible for the death of my husband Mark.
“Mark wasn’t just part of my life. There are no words to describe how much I love and miss him. He was the most incredible, honourable and inspirational person that one could hope to meet.
“Mark loved his job and took great pride in his duties. He never overlooked any opportunity to help people because that’s why he joined the force and that’s where he found himself that day – at the side of a lady needing help.
“Mark died doing what he did best. He was a hero at work and a hero at home to his family. Mark was the perfect husband, father, son, friend and colleague.
“He was highly respected at work and adored at home.
“His death has not just affected those who knew him the best, but so many others whom he came into contact with throughout his life.
“It is no exaggeration to say he was one in a billion. He made me proud every single day.”