Stannah Stairlifts chief’s wife is spared jail

Stannah Stairlifts chief’s wife is spared jail

February 22, 2019

Stannah Stairlifts chief’s wife killed a motorcyclist when she failed to stop her Land Rover at a dangerous junction moments after dropping her children off at school but is spared jail

  • Andrea Stannah pulled across  a dual carriageway in her £47,000 Land Rover
  • She failed to spot motorcyclist Steven Rayner and the 4×4 ploughed into him
  • The 45-year-old admitted a charge of causing death by driving without due care and attention

Andrea Stannah (right) is the wife of the head of Stannah Stairlifts, Nicholas Stannah (right)

The wife of the head of Stannah Stairlifts who killed a motorcyclist when she failed to stop her Land Rover at a dangerous junction has been spared jail.

A court heard Andrea Stannah had dropped her children off at school and was heading back to the family’s £1million home when she pulled across a dual carriageway in her £47,000 Land Rover Discovery.

After failing to spot motorcyclist Steven Rayner, the two tonne 4×4 ploughed straight into him, sending the 56-year-old civil engineer careering into a tree and a fence.

The court heard a distraught Stannah, 45, who is married to Nicholas Stannah, managing director of Stannah Stairlifts Ltd, had to be ‘dragged away’ from Mr Rayner’s body as she desperately tried to assist him.

The father-of-two, a highly-regarded structural engineer who had worked in the Middle East, Hong Kong and Malaysia, died at the scene.

Web designer Stannah, who attended court with her husband, admitted a charge of causing death by driving without due care and attention. She was sentenced to eight weeks in jail suspended for 12 months and ordering her to pay £200

It was heard Mr Rayner’s death was due to her ‘inattention’ at the junction on the A31, less than a mile from her home in the village of Ovington, Hampshire, and her failure to spot his motorcycle as she turned right.

The junction at Rodfield Lane where Stannah failed to spot the motorcycle

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Andrea Stannah (pictured above) was banned from the roads for a year after she failed to pause long enough at a dangerous junction 

Stannah Stairlifts, which dates back to the 1860s and remains a family business, has an annual turnover of £210m.

Prosecutor Kerry Richardson told Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court that witnesses driving on the carriageway in July last year braked to avoid Stannah’s green 4×4 as it pulled out into the road, and saw the bike collide with its front near-side wing.

One – named only as Mr Goode – had been driving a bed delivery truck with a colleague in the passenger seat, which was overtaken by Mr Rayner before he pulled back into the left lane of the carriageway.

Nicholas Stannah (left) and Andrea Stannah (right) outside Basingstoke Law Courts

Ms Richardson said: ‘The bike was cruising, but certainly wasn’t going fast.

‘Mr Goode saw a green 4×4 in the middle of the two carriageways.

‘He said ‘f*** f*** f***’ to his colleague because he could see what was going to happen. The bike had nowhere to go.’

Mrs Tailford-East, who was driving a Vauxhall Corsa in the right-hand lane, said she had to brake heavily to avoid Stannah’s 2012 Land Rover.

In a statement read to the court, she said: ‘The 4×4 was travelling through the junction. As it came closer to the carriageway I was aware it was not going to stop.

‘I had to apply my brakes heavily, along with a few choice words.

‘[The 4×4] did not react to my presence. I knew if I did not brake I would have hit the side of the car. I do not know if the driver knew I was there or not.’

Ms Richardson added: ‘It is a dangerous road. Mrs Stannah was coming from a side road to cross that road. Clearly extra care should be made.

‘Not only did she miss the motorcycle in lane one, but two larger vehicles in lane two.’

Stannah’s lawyer, Alex Stein, told the court: ‘The defendant accepts fully she made an error in assessing Mrs Tailford-East’s speed.

‘As Mrs Tailford-East is proceeding, the bike continues to be, rather tragically, hidden from view.

‘The reality is the signage is in the way, as it were, on this junction. Obviously [Mrs Stannah] is extremely traumatised by these events.

The case was heard at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court (pictured above) earlier today

‘It’s caused terrible damage to Mr Rayner’s family as well, and she is extremely remorseful.

‘She had to be pulled away from Mr Rayner because she was trying to assist where possible.’

Sentencing Stannah to eight weeks in jail suspended for 12 months and ordering her to pay £200, District Judge Timothy Pattinson said: ‘All cases of causing death by careless driving are tragic.

‘This case is particularly tragic, involving the death of a family man with wife and children. The court extends its deepest sympathy to the family of Mr Rayner.

‘I am left in no doubt that this is more serious than a case of momentary inattention.

‘Mrs Tailford-East was forced to brake heavily to avoid impact with Mrs Stannah’s vehicle.

‘It is unclear whether Mrs Stannah stopped at the central reservation. What is clear is she did not stop for long enough.

‘In addition, she should have been aware that the road she was entering was a busy and fast road.

‘The presence of Mrs Tailford-East’s vehicle in lane two, the overtaking lane, should have alerted her to the possibility of a vehicle being in lane one which might have been obscured from her view.’

Mr Rayner’s wife Marie, from Sparsholt, near Winchester, Hants, said: ‘Losing Steve in the tragic accident was devastating for the girls and I and our lives will never be the same again.

‘We recognise the effects of such a tragedy are far reaching and touch everyone involved in the accident.’

Speaking after the sentencing, PC Kelly Hargreaves said: ‘This case shows how devastating just a few moments of inattention can be when behind the wheel.

‘Had Stannah taken a few extra moments to look properly and check the road again, she would have seen Mr Rayner’s motorbike and his family wouldn’t be facing the rest of their lives without him.’

Steve Miles, who worked with Mr Rayner at Hampshire consulting engineers Upton McGougan said: ‘Steve was a very talented structural engineer who was highly regarded by his colleagues and the many professionals and contractors we worked with down the years.

‘His presence in the construction industry will be very sorely missed.’

Stannah Stairlifts has been awarded The Queen’s Award for Enterprise four times since 1984 and Prince Charles visited its factory in Andover, Hants, in 2011 to mark its 500,000th stairlift. It has now sold over 700,000.

Brothers Brian and Alan Stannah, who are joint chairmen, were jointly named as the 693rd richest people in last year’s The Sunday Times Rich List.

The brothers are estimated to have a fortune of £171m.


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