The man was checking how much fuel he had when he rammed into the back of a car at 70mph on the A14. 

Charles Ryan, 28, of Bees Lane in Tydd St Giles, Cambridgeshire, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison at Northampton Crown Court on January 15, 2024 after pleading guilty to causing the death of 40-year-old Craig Melville following a crash on the A14 in October 2022.

The Fenland man also disqualified from driving for two years, which will come into force once he has been released from prison.

On October 10, 2022 at around 4pm, Ryan was travelling on the eastbound carriageway of the A14 in Northamptonshire in his white Ford Transit Custom van.

Ryan became distracted by the vehicle’s onboard computer system as he wanted to know if he had enough fuel to get home.

The traffic in front of Ryan had slowed down to allow the recovery of a Ford Fusion car which had broken down in the nearside lane, about a mile prior to the Welford junction on the A14.

Ryan was still in cruise control, and was travelling at about 70mph in the right-hand overtaking lane. 

The court heard that the driver of the car travelling immediately in front of Ryan moved left into the nearside lane, after they noticed in their rear-view mirror that Ryan's van did not appear to be slowing down.

When Ryan finally looked up, it was too late and his van collided with the rear of Mr Melville’s silver Volkswagen Polo at speed.

It caused extensive damage to the car as it spun out of control before coming to rest in the overtaking lane.

Mr Melville had been travelling in convoy with his family at the time of the crash. His wife, who had been travelling ahead of him, witnessed the crash in her rear-view mirror.

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Mr Melville, who was described as a "much-loved husband and father", from Weldon, Corby, was airlifted to the University Hospital Coventry.

He tragically died three days later from serious head injuries he'd sustained in the crash.

Following an investigation by Northamptonshire Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, via a postal requisition last September, Ryan was charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

He appeared before Northampton Magistrates’ Court on October 5, where his case was sent to the county’s crown court.

On November 23, he pleaded guilty to causing Mr Melville’s death and the case was adjourned for sentencing.

Following the sentencing hearing, Detective Inspector Ryan Catling of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: "Ryan admitted he was distracted with the thought of getting home on the fuel he had left in his vehicle.

"As a result of his lapse of concentration about what was happening on the road ahead, he robbed Craig Melville of the same opportunity of getting home safely."

“Mr Melville was a much-loved husband and father with a wide circle of family and friends, who all thought the absolute world of him. His death has left a family completely and forever heartbroken and no sentence will ever make up for their loss.

“He had been travelling in convoy with his wife at the time of the collision. Ryan may have lost his liberty for a few years, but Mrs Melville will never be able to forget what she witnessed in the rear-view mirror that day."