Jail for Dudley insomniac who killed a grandfather when he fell asleep at the wheel (From Stourbridge News)
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Jail for Dudley insomniac who killed a grandfather when he fell asleep at the wheel
2:54pm Friday 8th March 2013 in News
A 70-YEAR-OLD Dudley insomniac who admitted falling asleep at the wheel and killing a 56-year-old man in a Kingswinford crash has been jailed for four years and eight months.
Michael Worrall, who killed family man Geoffrey Harris when he fell into a “deep sleep” while taking a drive to help him nod off, was also banned from the roads for ten years.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard Worrall had not slept for three nights and he was so oblivious to everything happening around him that he did not even react to the impact when he ploughed into Mr Harris' car.
Judge Michael Dudley said it was the third occasion that night that Worrall had gone out in his estate car - to try and relax so he could sleep.
He added: "I find that frankly incredible.
“There was obviously a serious risk that you would fall asleep and that is what happened.
"You must have been aware, if you had given it a moments thought, of the substantial risk you were taking."
He said Worrall must have been asleep an "appreciable time" at the wheel because he had space and at least 12 seconds to have spotted the car driven by Mr Harris who had recently become a grandfather for the first time.
The judge said it was clear Worrall had “fallen deeply asleep” and he urged him never to get behind the wheel of a car again.
Worrall, of Withern Way, Lower Gornal, admitted causing the death of Mr Harris by driving dangerously.
Roy Paterson, defending, said it was an "extremely poor error of judgement" by Worrall and added: "He chose to go out and drive to get himself to sleep. Now he wishes he could turn back the clock."
Joanne Barker, prosecuting, said Mr Harris was on his way to work when his car was hit from behind by Worrall's Vauxhall.
He did not brake or take evasive action and Mr Harris was thrown from his vehicle on impact and killed.
After his arrest Worrall told police he was not sure what had happened and added: "It was like I was in a dream" and he only woke up when he heard a loud bang.
He told the officers he had not been sleeping well for some time and it had been as though he was in a film when he had been "racing really fast."
Miss Barker said the pensioner, who told police he had been prescribed medication for his insomnia but had run out of sleeping tablets, "could and should" have seen Mr Harris - whose small car had a top speed of around 33mph.
She said he remembered nothing before the collision in Stallings Lane, Kingswinford, and it was clear his driving had been to "get some sleep."
Mr Harris, of Abberley Road, Lower Gornal, suffered serious head and chest injuries and he died despite the efforts of paramedics to save his life.
The accident "devastated" his family, who - the court was told - described him as a loving husband, father and grandfather with an "addictive cheeky personality."