A judge has condemned the working practices of parcel delivery companies as a “disaster waiting to happen” while jailing a DPD driver for killing a woman he mowed down as she crossed the road.
Driver Kamil Zieba was caught on his own dashcam camera recklessly mounting pavements and paying little attention to his driving while he checked his scanner or rolled a cigarette in the hours running up to the crash.
At about 3pm on May 21, 2020, his Mercedes Sprinter van hit Jennifer Davies as she crossed the Seven Dials roundabout. She died two days later of inoperable head injuries.
Mrs Davies was married to Tim Davies, founder of the Grubbs Burger Chain, who sold all but one of the restaurants in the aftermath of the crash.
In a victim impact statement read out in court, he said he depended on her for so many things, and “misses her so much”.
Zieba, 41, of Waterloo Street, denied causing death by dangerous driving, and driving dangerously before the crash.
Today, a jury at Hove Crown Court acquitted him of the first charge, but found him guilty of dangerous driving. Zieba had already pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
Sentencing, David Rennie said the trial had heard that drivers were paid £1 for every parcel, and were expected to deliver up to 180 in an eight-hour shift – or one every 2.5 minutes.
A traffic light system on the dashboard warns drivers they are falling behind with amber and red lights, which could get a driver fired.
He said: “Putting purely commercial interests to one side, I doubt that any right-thinking person would see this as anything other that a disaster waiting to happen.
“In this case, that disaster led to a death, and a devastated family.
“It is my sincere hope that those who are in a position to influence things are able to bring about or recommend changes to some of these practices, because in my judgement they create highly dangerous situations on our roads.
“If changes are not made then other families, like the Davies family, will be needlessly torn apart in the future.”
During the trial, the jury was shown upsetting footage from the dashcam and local businesses’ CCTV which showed the moment of the collision.
Judge Rennie said: “Anyone watching that video could be forgiven for thinking that it was only a matter of time before something terrible happened… and it did.
“It was the extremely careless way you chose to drive that day killed Mrs Davies, and that was completely avoidable.
“Looking at the video, I can see a man who is in an obvious and ongoing hurry. There is something frantic about all your actions, and your desire to get those parcels delivered as quickly as possible.
“It is obvious to me that you are constantly aware of and motivated by the green, amber and red light system, and possibly a fear of losing your job if you got too far behind.
“Because of that, you paid very little attention to the law of the road, and the rights of other motorists and pedestrians to be respected and kept safe. That is why Mrs Davies died.
“If she carried any responsibility for what happened, it was marginal, in the scale of things. This was your fault.”
Mrs Davies, 69, had left her house in Dyke Road on a warm and dry afternoon and started walking north towards the roundabout, on the left hand side of the road.
At one point, she had been forced to walk in the road as Zieba had parked his van on the pavement.
She passed the van, and waited to cross the roundabout for a few seconds before stepping into the road.
It was then that Zieba, who was looking right for oncoming traffic but not left, pulled out onto the roundabout and and hit her.
Although Mrs Davies had not used a marked crossing, Zieba knew the roundabout well and should have known pedestrians commonly crossed at that point.
A forensic investigation used CCTV and photographs to establish the van would have been travelling at an average speed of 16mph along Dyke Road.
Forensic collision expert Joseph Turner wrote a report in which he said the area was visually cluttered, but Zieba would have had a clear view of Mrs Davies.
When Zieba was interviewed in July, he told officer he had started work at the DPD depot in Burgess Hill, and had been expected to deliver up to 100 parcels that day.
But he said that number was “nothing”, and that he was not under pressure.
He said he used the roundabout at least once a day, and that others had warned him how dangerous it was so he was careful when he approached.
But he said the cluttered street scene, with a tree, lamp post, post box and bench meant he did not see Mrs Davies as she crossed.
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