10:13PM, Friday 12 April 2019
The widow of a motorcyclist who died in a collision on the M4 has called on her husband’s killer to use the tragedy to make a difference.
Paul Duxbury, 36, of Rowland Close, Wallingford, was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment at Reading Crown Court today (Friday) after he killed Edmund ‘Eddy’ Lee in a traffic collision near junction five of the motorway on July 5 2018.
The first half of the sentence will be served in custody, the second half out on licence after he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.
On the day of the collision, Duxbury, driving a Volkswagen van, was distracted by colleagues in another van while he was driving along the M4, and did not notice that 46-year-old Mr Lee, who was riding on his motorcycle in front of him, had come to a stop.
Duxbury did not hit the brakes until after he collided with the back of the vehicle.
A witness in the car directly in front of the motorbike said he heard a ‘huge impact’ before seeing Mr Lee fly past his car, clipping his wing mirror and landing on the ground.
The defendant had three points on his licence for a speeding offence he committed eight months previously. No traces of drugs or alcohol were found in his system.
Duxbury called 999 immediately and attempted to help save Mr Lee, but he died in St Mary’s Hospital in London eight days later.
At the sentencing, Mr Lee’s widow Ciara Lee stood up and gave an emotional and impassioned address, describing the man her husband had been, what he meant to their three-year-old son Seren, and how she hoped some good may come from his death.
She said: “My truly happy life came to an end on July 5. Any youthfulness I still had is gone. I will never feel carefree again.
“I will never know what our life could have been. Seren will never see the happiness and love between his parents.”
In his life, Mr Lee was an accomplished sportsman who took part in Park Run, regularly went canoeing and kayaking and was an exceptional cyclist.
A popular pillar of the Cookham community, where he lived with his wife and toddler in a 70ft barge, more than 300 people showed up to his funeral in August.
Speaking to the courtroom, defence barrister Charles Row read out a letter Duxbury had sent to judge Paul Dugdale expressing his remorse and the guilt he felt.
Reading from the letter, he said: “My deepest sympathies are with the family.
“They need to know I never set out that day to hurt anyone, my actions have caused devastation and I will never forgive what I have done.
“I did everything I could to keep him alive. I have seen a lot of death, whether it be in the forces on operations or in my own family, but this death is something I can’t describe.
“To live with the guilt is the longest sentence I have.”
A former soldier, Duxbury served tours in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland among other places.
He left the service and became an electrician so he could spend more time with his family. He has two girls aged nine and 13 with his first wife and is also the stepfather of 13 and 17-year-old boys.
Before she finished reading out her victim impact statement, Mrs Lee called on Duxbury to try and make good of his life once he has served his sentence.
She said: “I have decided that the only person who can go some way to ease the pain of this situation is, in fact, Mr Duxbury.
“He has the power to try and instigate change. Talk to kids at schools, talk to companies that hire van drivers.
“Tell them what happens when you drive dangerously. Tell them how all our lives were impacted that day.”
In his summing up, the judge expressed sympathies to the families of both the victim and the defendant, stating that whatever sentence he passed would be ‘wholly inadequate’ for the loss.
He said: “Eddy Lee was a truly special human being. His death leaves a colossal hole."
On the defendant, he said: “He has expressed clear remorse, Paul Duxbury is clearly not a bad person.
“When driving on the M4 he was distracted badly by a colleague’s van. It was a wholly avoidable distraction and one which had catastrophic consequences.”
As well as the 22-month sentence, Duxbury was also handed a five-year disqualification from driving, which will come into force after the sentence has been served.
Speaking after the sentencing, Mrs Lee said she was disappointed by the length of the sentence, but had expected it to be so and had prepared herself.
Mrs Lee also stated how she would be willing to speak publicly alongside Duxbury to raise awareness for road safety after his sentence is over.
She said: “He’ll be out in 11 months, how do I go home and look my three-year-old son in the eyes knowing that the man who killed his dad will be out in 11 months?
“But if I focus on that it will eat me up so I have to focus on something and try and make a difference, and that lands at Duxbury’s feet.
“I would stand in a room with him and make speeches. The worst has already happened to me.”
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