Car texting footballer is jailed over death crash
A Belfast-born footballer who killed a pensioner in an horrific head-on smash while texting on his Blackberry has been locked up for 30 months only days after he gave a man of the match performance at Wembley.
Oxford United midfielder and former Northern Ireland under-21 international Adam Chapman helped his side beat York City 3-1 in the Conference play-off final on May 16th and win promotion back to the Football League.
But the 20-year-old's promising career is now in doubt after he admitted causing the death of Tom Bryan by dangerous driving.
Nottingham Crown Court heard Chapman sent at least 15 text messages on his mobile and received nine in the minutes before he crossed onto the wrong side of the road and ploughed into Mr Bryan.
Other motorists said the 77-year-old would have had “no time to react” as Chapman's Vauxhall Corsa came over the brow of a hill and headed straight for him on the single carriageway A620 near North Wheatley, Notts, in May last year.
Mr Bryan, who was driving a Honda Civic, died of massive internal injuries, while Chapman, who had only passed his test six months earlier, escaped unhurt.
Mr Bryan's partner of six years, Glenys Bloomer (75), who was in the passenger seat, suffered a broken wrist and severe bruising.
Michael Auty, prosecuting, said Chapman initially claimed in an interview after his arrest that the accident had happened when he looked away from the road for a moment to pull down his sun visor. He told officers that he had been using his Blackberry during the journey, but only while he wasn't moving, and that the last message had been sent five minutes before the impact.
However Mr Auty told the court that an analysis of Chapman's phone records revealed he sent three texts and received one “just prior” to the collision.
He said: “The evidence shows that from 2.03pm from when it is agreed by all that Chapman was on the road to the time of the incident he had sent 15 messages and received nine.
“From 1.40pm to 2.19pm the internet browser was active on his Blackberry the whole time.
“It is not possible for us to say from the analysis whether he was drafting or reading a text message at the time of the collision or trying to discern something from the internet.
“It may not matter. The point is simply he was using the device in some way or other and that is the only plausible reason why he lost control of his motor vehicle and the collision occurred.”
Defence lawyer Graham Huston said Oxford United were prepared to “stand by” Chapman at this stage and discuss a new contract on his release. But he said if he was locked up for longer than 12 months “other young players coming through” may put a question mark over any offer.
But Judge John Milmo QC said that Chapman's driving contained “a substantial risk of danger”.
He told Chapman, of Hillview Crescent, Clarborough, Notts, that his career as a professional footballer “must be interrupted by a custodial sentence”.