Good Samaritan was killed in M1 crash by speeding mother
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A “Good Samaritan” who ran to help a suicide victim who had leapt from a bridge onto the M1, was himself killed when he was struck by a speeding woman motorist trying to beat the hold-up.
Spencer Bell, 71, an ex-policeman and tireless charity worker, bravely ventured out onto the carriageway after other motorists had slowed and activated their hazard lights.
But as he tended the man who was already dead from the fall, Mr Bell was struck by a Toyota Previa being driven by mother-of-three, Iram Shahzad.
St Albans crown court heard she had sped up to the scene of the tragedy and then tried to get round the slowing cars on lanes one and two by veering out into lane three.
Travelling at speeds of between 82 and 88 miles per hour with two of her young children in the back of the car, she realised at the last moment the way ahead was blocked by two stationary vehicles.
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But instead of stopping like the other drivers the young mother, who was on her way to a funeral, thought she could beat the hold-up by breaking and swerving back into lane two.
It was there between the two lanes that Mr Bell was crouched at the feet of suicide victim Alan Tretheway who was 67.
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The Toyota, with its brakes screeching and travelling at 46mph, then slammed into Mr Bell, sending him flying through the air and killing him instantly.
Mrs Shahzad, 32, pleaded guilty to a single charge of causing the death by careless driving of Mr Bell on the M1 motorway near St Albans.
Judge Martin Griffith sentenced her to 14 months imprisonment but suspended the term for two years.
He told her: “This case is a tragic case for the family and friends of Spencer Bell.”
He said the term “Good Samaritan” was frequently over used but in Mr Bell’s case it was a fitting description.
“Nothing I can say or do can fill the void left by this splendid man’s untimely death,” he told her.
He placed her on supervision for the next year and disqualified her from driving for the next 18 months.
She was also made the subject of a restorative justice activity requirement which means at some stage in the future she and Spencer Bell’s widow, Wendy could meet if both want to.
Outside the court after the sentencing Wendy Bell said: “I didn’t want her to go to prison. She has got three young children and they have not done anything wrong. I just wanted her banned from driving.”
Moments earlier Mrs Bell, from Bushey, went into the witness box to tell the judge of the impact her husband’s death had had on her.
She said: “My life was full of cuddles, kisses, holding hands and joy. Now I cry all the time I am on my own, which is an awful lot. I have nothing to look forward to, my life has ended and I am just marking time until I join him.”
Prosecutor Peter Shaw told the court how on the morning of January 30 2014 Mr Bell was driving north along the M1 in his Audi A7 between junctions 5 and 6
As he approached the Bucknalls Lane over-bridge at around 10.50am Mr Tretheway, who lived nearby and who was being treated for depression and prostate cancer, threw himself from the parapet. He landed in the northbound carriageway of the motorway between lanes two and three and died instantly.
Other motorists were able to slow and stop their vehicles and activate warning lights to alert other drivers to the body in the road.
Mr Bell, who had served in the Met Police for 31 years, pulled onto the hard shoulder, and with traffic slowing to a halt in lanes one and two, had gone to the aid of Mr Tretheway when the accident occurred.
Judge Griffith was told it was the crown’s case that Mrs Shahzad could not have been paying attention as she drove that morning.
Defending, Sebastian Gardiner said his client was truly remorseful and her driving that morning had been out of character.
“She wants me to apologise to Mr Bell’s wife and other members of his family and friends,” he said.