Gosport drug-driver jailed for fatal A32 crash

A DRIVER has been jailed for killing a woman in a drug-driving crash after losing control overtaking on a bend in the road.

Friday, 25th May 2018, 3:37 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:50 am
Steven Agar, 36, leaving Portsmouth Crown Court

Steven Agar has been sentenced to 42 months in prison for death by careless driving while being over the prescribed cannabis drug limit.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard the 37-year-old was driving along the A32 near Droxford on August 23, 2017, in his Audi A4 and crashed in to a Mazda with driver Michael Hill and his wife Deborah in the front, and their friend Gena Close in the rear passenger seat.

Emergency services were called to the accident, which happened just after 5pm but Mrs Close, of Beverly Hills Park, in Amesbury, Wiltshire later died of her injuries.

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Agar, who passed his driving test 12 months prior to the incident, was drug tested by police at the scene and was 0.3 micrograms over the limit for cannabis.

Prosecutor Giles Bedlow told the court other drivers who witnessed the accident had said Agar was overtaking cars on the national speed limit road before overtaking on a bend and losing control.

One witness statement read out to court said: ‘The vehicle swerved off diagonally in to the other side of the road.’

A victim personal statement from Gena’s son Jack was read to the court.

‘Losing my mum was like losing my best friend,’ he said.

‘I struggle to deal with living my life without my parents around.’

Jack’s father and husband to Gena, Pete Close died in 2015.

‘I am extremely grateful for my friends and family for supporting me through this but it does not change the fact I lost my mum,’ the son’s statement said.

Both the families of Mrs Close and Agar were in the public gallery.

Deborah Hill, Mrs Close’s best friend, was in the car at the time of the crash and spoke to the court about losing her close friend who had recently moved to be closer to her and her son Jack.

The 57-year-old said: ‘Gena was a delight to have around and from the very first week she joined us every weekend for a trip out somewhere.

‘She became a part of our family.’

Judge Hetherington said: ‘It has of course brought devastation in the family and close friends of the deceased.

‘I don’t overlook that your life and that of your family has been permanently and substantially changed by these events and its aftermath.’

Agar of Harris Avenue, Gosport has been disqualified from driving for 57 months and will have to pay a victim surcharge.

He admitted the offence at a previous hearing.

Mitigating, Paul Walker said: ‘This is a difficult exercise for everyone involved in this case.

‘One family who sits in this court have lost a family member and another family who sits in this court are going to have a loved one sent to prison.’

Since the accident the court heard Agar has not been in a motor vehicle nor used cannabis since October of last year.

He has also been working with mental health services after being diagnosed with PTSD and the court was told he had used cannabis while trying to deal with his grandfather’s death.

Road safety officer PC Dave Mitchell, from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: ‘There was no need for Agar to overtake those vehicles that day, he was simply being impatient and that has resulted in the death of Gena Close, leaving her loved ones devastated.

‘Agar not only drove carelessly, he did so after taking cannabis, ignoring all the warnings.

‘Cannabis can severely impact someone’s ability to drive, such as distorting the driver’s perception of space and time.

‘In this case Agar attempted to overtake as he approached a bend, where there was insufficient space and time to do so safely.

‘Had Agar decided not to take cannabis prior to driving, and had he not made a reckless overtake, then this collision and its tragic consequences would not have happened.’