A DRUNKEN van driver who knocked down and killed a pensioner has been jailed for three years and four months.
Uninsured Mark Sanderson, 39, was found standing over 81-year-old victim Joyce Wilding by two women who saw the aftermath of the collision.
He said: "She was just there in the road," and later added: "She just stepped out."
Sanderson, who had cans in the cab and may have actually been drinking at the wheel, gave a positive roadside breath test but then failed to give a sample at the police station.
Mrs Wilding, who had just been to visit her daughter and grandson, suffered a broken right leg, fractured ribs and other injuries and died in hospital two weeks later.
The defendant, of Shakespeare Avenue, Great Harwood, admitted causing death by careless driving while unfit through drink, having no licence and having no insurance. He was banned for two years at Burnley Crown Court and must take an extended re-test.
Judge Beverley Lunt said she accepted Sanderson was genuinely remorseful and would have to live with what he did for the rest of his life.
She said the van had defects and continued: "It’s unclear what your alcohol reading would have been as you deliberately failed to take a test."
Dennis Watson, prosecuting, told the court Mrs Wilding was knocked down on 7 January as the defendant turned into Shakespeare Avenue in his Renault van.
There were no witnesses but the two women came upon the scene in a car and saw Sanderson’s van with the driver’s door open. They called the emergency services and described Sanderson as "cagey".
A police officer noticed his breath smelled of drink and saw the right-hand side of the van bonnet and bumper were damaged.
Mr Watson said Mrs Wilding was able to tell police she had been hit by a van. Sanderson was arrested and taken to the police station where he made three attempts to provide a breath specimen but did not give a sufficient sample.
Mrs Wilding was taken to hospital and died on 25 January, from heart and lung failure.
Mr Watson added that Sanderson’s van had no horn, indicators or interior fan and it had been raining and dark at the time of the incident.
Bob Elias, defending, said Sanderson was desperately sorry for what happened. He had been in shock at the scene and had perhaps been less than honest.
Whatever sentence the court imposed, Sanderson was going to have to live with what he had done and make his peace with society as best he could.
He added: "He is about as sorry as a man could be for what happened."
Police are hoping the sentence will act as a harsh warning to other drink-drivers, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.
Sergeant Mick Young from Eastern Division’s road policing unit, who led the investigation, said: "No sentence available to the court will ever compensate the family of Mrs Wilding for their sad loss but I hope that this sentence will act as a deterrent to other drivers who may think that drinking and driving is acceptable.
"Sanderson didn’t intend to injure or kill on the day of the accident but accidents do happen and if you drink and drive you are gambling with other people’s lives as well as your own.
"I send my condolences to the family and friends of Mrs Wilding and hope that they can take some comfort from the sentence of the court."
l Mrs Wilding, of Blackburn Road, Great Harwood, was described as fit and active for her age and used to walk everywhere even though she had asthma.
A keen gardener, she left her daughter Marjorie Swiatczak and a grandson Harry, eight, to whom she was devoted.