Barnstaple hospital consultant in death crash jailed

A consultant radiologist at a Barnstaple hospital has been jailed for two years after he killed a motor cyclist and maimed the victim s wife in a road crash. Passing sentence at Exeter Crown Court Judge Graham Cottle told 36 year old Mark Meller from Exet

A consultant radiologist at a Barnstaple hospital has been jailed for two years after he killed a motor cyclist and maimed the victim's wife in a road crash.

Passing sentence at Exeter Crown Court Judge Graham Cottle told 36 year old Mark Meller from Exeter: "You are a man of impeccable character and have honourably accepted your responsibility for this tragic and needless loss of life. The victim stood no chance of avoiding the crash and was left with simply nowhere to go.

"Either this was a serious error of judgement with you making a decision that it was safe to overtake or incomprehensibly the case that you failed to see the motor cycle at the point you overtook the other car.

"The consequences were catastrophic with the motor cycle rider dying and his wife left extremely seriously injured. She had to have a leg amputated and has needed a number of operations for other injuries.


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"You have written a letter to me and unlike almost every other I have received what stands out is that all your thoughts and expressions of concern are for the consequences the dependants of the victim will suffer. There is not a hint of self pity and you show an unmitigated acceptance of total responsibility for the tragic and devastating consequences of your driving. You are acutely aware that you have left behind you a trail of destruction," said the judge.

Meller had pleaded guilty to causing the death of Simon Rutley-Frayne on the 396 at Stoke Canon on November 10th last year.

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Mr Rutley-Frayne worked as an IT manager for the Wildlife Trust and his wife Caroline who also worked for the Trust was the pillion passenger and was seriously injured.

Prosecutor David Sapiecha said Meller who worked at the North Devon District Hospital appeared to be in a hurry when he overtook other cars. Mr Rutley-Frayne from Tiverton was coming in the opposite direction and had his headlight on. He tried to take evading action and although he avoided a head on collision Meller's Audi A3 caught him a glancing blow. He sustained fatal injuries in the crash.

The prosecutor said other motorists who witnessed Meller's vehicle said they were surprised at the manner in which he was driving. He said the road conditions were poor at the time of the early morning crash but Meller had overtaken another car when he should not have done and did not see the motor cyclist coming in the opposite direction. He said there appeared to be an element of impatience in Meller's driving that morning.

Mitigating Rupert Taylor said it had taken considerable courage on the part of his client to plead guilty to the offence knowing what the almost inevitable consequences would be. He was a man with no previous convictions.

Mr Taylor said there were no winners in a case like this. It was a cruel irony that Dr. Meller was a man who tried to preserve life and reduce suffering and this case had had exactly the reverse effect.

Mr Taylor said in addition to anything the court might do Meller faced the possible cessation of his right to practice when the GMC held a tribunal. He would at least be suspended and this case might signal the end of a promising career.

In addition to the prison sentence Meller of Beaufort Road, St. Thomas, Exeter was banned from driving for seven years.

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