Euromillions £45m jackpot winner, 31, is cleared of killing woman, 75, in crash when he took his eyes off road ‘for split second’ as he retrieved teddy bear to calm his screaming toddler
- Matthew Topham’s BMW collided with a Ford Fiesta in Lincolnshire in 2019
- Topham, 31, said he only took eyes off the road to retrieve his son’s teddy bear
- The crash killed Mary Jane Regler, 75, who was a passenger in the Fiesta
- Topham, of Swinderby, Lincolnshire, admitted causing death by careless driving
- But jurors at Lincoln Crown Court found driving only careless, not dangerous
A £45million lottery winner has today been cleared of killing a pensioner in a Christmas Day crash after taking his eyes off the road to retrieve a teddy bear for his screaming toddler.
Matthew Topham, 31, caused the death of 75-year-old Mary Jane Regler when his BMW collided with a Ford Fiesta in North Cockerington, Lincolnshire, on Christmas Day in 2019.
He said he took his eyes off the road for ‘a split second’ to retrieve his two-year-old son’s teddy bear.
Jurors accepted that he reached down ‘instinctively’ after his youngest son let out a ‘piercing’ screaming which sounded ‘like a burglar alarm’.
Topham – who won £45million on the EuroMillions in 2012 – admitted causing death by careless driving just before his three-day trial.
But jurors at Lincoln Crown Court found Topham, of Swinderby, Lincolnshire, not guilty causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving after deliberating for just over an hour.
Matthew Topham, 31, (pictured outside Lincoln Crown Court today) was acquitted of causing death by dangerous driving after his BMW collided with a Ford Fiesta in North Cockerington, Lincolnshire, on Christmas Day in 2019
Victim Mrs Regler was a passenger in the Fiesta being driven by 78-year-old Rodney Regler. The couple were driving home after having Christmas dinner at their son’s house.
As a result of the crash, Mrs Regler died from severe chest injuries and Mr Regler suffered serious injuries.
Topham earlier described his actions as ‘terrible’, but said every time his child let out the ‘massive’ scream it made him ‘crazy’.
Topham, thought to be Britain’s youngest EuroMillions winner, took his eyes off the road for ‘up to three seconds’ before crashing his BMW, he said.
The defendant told how his eldest son had alerted him to the teddy being dropped on the floor, but he initially ignored it because he thought his youngest son had fallen asleep.
Topham said he had taken precautions before setting off from visiting his wife’s parents – including de-misting the windscreen and making sure the lights embedded into his Christmas jumper were turned off to avoid reflection.
Topham (pictured with his wife Cassey when he won) said he took his eyes off the road for ‘up to three seconds’ to retrieve his son’s teddy bear to stop him ‘screaming like a burglar alarm’ in the crash which killed Mary Jane Regler, 75 (right)
Jurors earlier heard from the defendant about his jackpot win – and he explained how he and his wife ‘don’t flaunt our wealth – we’re not on Facebook or Instagram’.
Topham said he had bought a collection of cars, bought a house for his wife’s parents, paid off mortgages for friends and family, and helped his father retire from his work.
Asked if he would take his lottery win back, the defendant said: ‘No. I don’t think anyone would.’
Defence QC Paul Greaney then asked: ‘Were you and your wife reckless with the money?’ to which Topham replied: ‘No.’
Explaining how his two-year-old son had made him turn his back on the road, the defendant told the court: ‘Initially, he just started a small whine as children do, and then just let out a massive scream and wouldn’t stop.
‘Ever since our youngest was a baby, one of his traits was this scream.
‘It was like someone had set off a burglar alarm and it made me crazy.
Jurors earlier heard from the defendant about his jackpot win (pictured with his wife when they won) – and he explained how he and his wife ‘don’t flaunt our wealth – we’re not on Facebook or Instagram’
‘When he was younger there were some stages where I had to pass him to my wife because I couldn’t deal with the noise.’
The court heard how the lottery winner had once attended a speed awareness course after being caught speeding with a trailer, but had no points on his licence.
Addressing his reasons for pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving, Topham said: ‘I believe what I did was a careless act and it was wrong for me to turn around like that, and had I been of a reasonable mind I wouldn’t have done it.
‘I can’t explain to myself why I did it.
‘If I was consciously making a decision, I hope I would come to a better conclusion than I did that day.
‘If I could take it back I would, but I can’t.’
In his prosecution opening, prosecution barrister Michael Cranmer-Brown had attempted to argue Topham’s son being upset was ‘irrelevant’.
But the jury dismissed this argument after brief deliberations on Tuesday.
Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight told Topham he had ‘the night to spend with your family’ before adjourning sentence for causing death by careless driving until Thursday.
Source: Read Full Article