A driver who escaped with six months in prison for killing a 13-year-old boy in a hit-and-run has been jailed again after killing another man while using his phone while driving.
Kurt Sammon, 54, was sentenced today to seven years in prison for causing the death of motorcyclist Louis McGovern, 30, in Stockport, Greater Manchester.
Sammon had jumped a red light during the evening rush hour while handling an incoming call on his hands-free device when he hit Mr McGovern in his red Ford Transit van in January 2019.
Engineer Mr McGovern, who ran his Suzuki motorcycle through a green light, suffered multiple injuries in the collision and died in hospital the next day.
A court heard that Sammon had seen “one of the worst driving records ever” by prosecutors.
In 2004, he beat and killed 13-year-old Michael Weaver who was picking up a pizza with his family.
Sammon, who now runs a car rental company, was convicted of failing to stop after hitting the schoolboy while driving a Volvo 460 without valid insurance or MOT.
Kurt Sammon, 54, (pictured) was sentenced today to seven years in prison for causing the death by dangerous driving of motorcyclist Louis McGovern, 30
Louis McGovern with partner Lauren James who made a statement in court saying the couple had ‘talked about having children’
Kurt Sammon escaped with six months in prison after leaving 13-year-old Michael Weaver (pictured) to die in a hit-and-run in 2004
“This should never have happened. This man should not have had a driver’s license’: Louis McGovern’s partner gives heartbreaking statement after death of ‘best friend’
Louis McGovern with partner Lauren James
In a statement today, Lauren James, Mr McGovern’s partner, said: “Louis had told his friends he would propose to me on a mountain and I would have said yes without hesitation.
“We discussed having children and having a family of our own.
“In the night he texted me to say he was done with work and leaving. He came home late and I wondered what was holding him back.
“I tried to call him, but he didn’t answer. I called my mother and she tried to reassure me. In the end I decided to ride the route he would have driven home because I was so worried.
“I saw the police and I was afraid it was him.
“The officer there at the time said there was an accident but told me not to worry, but I knew he was involved. I contacted his parents on the way to the hospital and at first I had some hope that he would be fine. But then the doctors said there was nothing they could do for him.
“I sat with him and held his hand as he died the next day. I was in a state of total shock. I’ve lost a lot of weight since then and to this day I still have broken and disrupted sleep. I was so happy with him, he was my best friend.
“There doesn’t seem to be any remorse from the man who killed him. This should never have happened. This man shouldn’t have had a driver’s license.’
The schoolboy was mowed down at 70 mph and died almost immediately after serious injuries to his ribs, a broken back and a severed spinal cord.
After the crash in 2004, Sammon drove off and dumped the car three kilometers away.
He was initially charged on the more serious charge of causing Mr. Weaver’s death by dangerous driving, but the charges were dropped after a key witness disappeared.
Sammon had been drinking the heroin replacement methadone shortly before the tragedy and said he was “in bad shape” after an argument with his boss at work.
The police who arrested him discovered that he had a criminal record dating back to 1982, including driving while disqualified.
He admitted fewer offenses of not stopping and reporting an accident, and having no insurance or MOT and would have served just three months before being released.
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Sammon van Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, was convicted of causing the death of Mr McGovern by dangerous driving.
He was also given a 13 and a half year driving ban.
Prosecutor Robert Hall said Sammon may have been “distracted” using his phone, with call records showing he was called during the trip.
“There’s no question that he used his cell phone, but he says he used the phone hands-free,” he said.
The crash occurred at 5:40 p.m., with Sammon receiving an incoming call of 57 seconds at 5:39 p.m. 30 seconds, the prosecutor said.
He also sent and received two Whatsapp messages in the minutes before the crash, the court heard.
Mr Hall added: ‘At 5:41pm 40 seconds the traffic lights went red at a time when Mr Sammon’s van was traveling at 24mph.
“He could have stopped, there was enough time and distance to stop before the intersection.
“But his van collided with the motorcycle and Mr McGovern had no realistic chance of avoiding the collision.
“The van showed no signs of emergency braking and Mr. McGovern became trapped under the vehicle.”
Mr McGovern was taken to Salford Hospital where doctors unsuccessfully tried to rescue him after he suffered a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, 16 rib fractures and lacerations to the spleen and kidneys.
Sammon was arrested that night. He claimed he was familiar with the intersection and tried to blame Mr McGovern, whom he accused of speeding.
He said he used his hands-free Bluetooth kit, but also said he only used his phone when his car was stationary.
He said he didn’t see the motorcycle until suddenly ‘the motorcyclist hit my van’, but he couldn’t explain why he didn’t see the red light.
A toxicology report showed there was no alcohol or drugs in his system.
Sammon denied causing death by dangerous driving, but admitted to causing death by careless driving.
Prosecutors told jurors at Minshull Street Crown Court that Sammon has ‘one of the worst driving records ever’
He has a criminal record dating back to 1982 for traffic violations including driving while disqualified, failing to stop after an accident, not having MOT or insurance, and using a phone while driving.
In a letter to the court, he said: ‘The impact of this has resulted in my own relationship of 28 years being broken. I am a caregiver for my mother and am concerned how this will affect her.
‘This has caused me a lot of pain. I’m so sorry. I still believe that I did not drive dangerously that night, but someone got lost because of me and I am truly sorry. I pray that the family has peace and comfort.”
Convicted judge Maurice Greene told Sammon, “Louis had accomplished a lot in his life. He had graduated with a Masters and was an engineer. He had a loving disposition, empathy and was considerate to others.
“I don’t accept that you stop every time you receive a WhatsApp message. You said you were using a Bluetooth connection to make a call. However, evidence was found that it had disconnected and that it could not have turned itself off on its own. I am convinced that you have been using this phone illegally by holding it in your hand. You had time to stop your vehicle if you had paid attention.
“You were very distracted at the time and had driven quite a distance while talking on the phone and using WhatsApp. You’re 55 and your driving is terrible.’