A 23-year-old man from Wetherby has appeared at York Crown Court today (Thursday 11 March 2021) and pleaded guilty to causing the death of 62-year-old Maria Cuzyova by dangerous driving.
William Charles Jackson of Aire Road also pleaded guilty to two further counts of causing serious injury due to dangerous driving.
At around 10pm on Wednesday 3 April 2019, Jackson was driving his red Vauxhall Astra along the A168, when he collided with a silver Volkswagen Polo, between Kirk Deighton and Walshford.
As he approached the crest of a hill with double solid white lines between the north and southbound carriageways, Jackson made the fatal manoeuvre, claiming he was overtaking a slower moving vehicle in front of him. However, he had failed to see the Polo on the other side of the carriage way, resulting in him moving out into the vehicle’s path and colliding head on with the oncoming car.
The resulting collision killed 62-year-old grandmother Maria Cuzyova, who was visiting her family from Slovakia and was travelling as a rear seat passenger in the Polo.
Mrs Cuzyova’s daughter, Michaela Young who was driving the Polo and her son-in-law Nicholas Young, who was travelling as the front seat passenger, both sustained life changing injuries in the incident. Their 5-year-old daughter, who was also in the vehicle at the time, thankfully only sustained minor injuries. But the court heard in a moving victim’s statement read by Mr Young, that she will always remember the horror of the incident which took her grandmother’s life. Mr Young also spoke about the deep impact the collision has had on the family, both in the UK and Slovakia and the pain caused by the loss of Mrs Cuzyova, in such a sudden and tragic way.
Jackson pleaded guilty to all three counts and was sentenced to 5 years and 8 months imprisonment and was banned from driving for 7 years and 10 months. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £190.
Speaking after the sentencing, Senior Investigating Officer Traffic Sergeant Kirsten Aldridge from the North Yorkshire Police Major Collision Investigation Team said:
“My heart goes out to the Young and Cuzyova family.
“Maria had just arrived in the UK to visit her family over half term. They were travelling back home after spending a lovely evening together and should have been all been able to return safely. However, due to the irresponsible actions of Jackson and his poor decision making, they will forevermore remember that night with heartache and sorrow.
“I’d like to thank my colleagues in the Major Collision Investigation Team and Forensic Collision Investigation Unit for their hard work and determination in bringing this case to court and securing justice for the family. While the sentence handed to Jackson today will never bring Mrs Cuzyova back, I hope it does help the family to move forward knowing that justice has been served and Jackson will spend time behind bars for the crime he committed.
“I hope the sentence also acts as a reminder that every driver on the road has a responsibility for the safety of other drivers and road users around them. A poorly judged manoeuvre or a hastily thought through decision can have devastating, fatal effects. So, please drive safely and with consideration to others at all times.”
When sentencing Jackson, Judge Simon Hickey made reference to the disturbing text message evidence that the investigation uncovered on Jackson’s mobile phone, which clearly demonstrated a disregard and lack of respect to road safety and other road users. He also referred to the impact the horrific nature of the incident has had on Mrs Cuzyova’s family.
Speaking today, Maria’s daughter Michaela Young, issued the following moving tribute:
“Mum was full of life and loved by everyone. She was devoted to her family, especially her grandchildren who miss her every day. My Dad’s lost his wife of 40 years, his rock, and my Grandma her only daughter and main carer. I have lost my Mum and a best friend.
“Our family has been ripped apart and we are all utterly devastated. Both my husband and I are left with lifelong injuries that constantly remind us of the horror caused by William Jackson. We would like to thank the emergency services and our local community for all the help and support they have provided during this very difficult time.”
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