US servicewoman found not guilty of causing death by careless driving

By John Mercury December 23, 2023

A US servicewoman has been found not guilty of causing death by careless driving after colliding with a motorcyclist on her way home from an RAF airbase.

Airman first class Mikayla Hayes, 25, wept as she gave evidence after denying the charges, telling the court: “I still to this day have no idea why I didn’t see that motorcycle.”

She collided with Matthew Day, 33, on 26 August last year, who was riding a motorcycle past a junction she was turning out of, Norwich Crown Court heard.

She had been heading towards her home in Downham Market, as she travelled back from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk where she worked.

Undated file family handout photo of Matthew Day, 33, who died of his injuries after a red Honda Accord car collided with the Yamaha motorbike he was riding in the village of Southery, near Downham Market, Norfolk, on August 26. US airman first class Mikayla Hayes, 24, who is based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, was still on duty as she drove home from work at a Suffolk military base and allegedly killed the motorcyclist, her lawyer has told a court. Deputy senior district judge Tan Ikram is cons
Image:
Matthew Day

Mr Day was travelling south on the A10 in Norfolk as Airman Hayes emerged from the B1160 Lynn Road, across his path.

The court was told the defendant pulled out when Mr Day was “10 to 15 metres” from her car.

He died later that day from his injuries.

US officials had claimed Airman Hayes was on duty at the time of the incident.

Christine Agnew KC said, in her defence: “Sometimes it’s just an accident and there’s no-one to blame.”

She told the court “this case is not just another US airman case” and she mentioned the case of Harry Dunn and Anne Sacoolas.

Motorcyclist Harry Dunn was 19 when a Volvo, driven on the wrong side of the road by US citizen Sacoolas, crashed into him outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in 2019.

Sacoolas was able to leave the UK after diplomatic immunity was asserted on her behalf.

Ms Agnew said there was “no suggestion” that Hayes had “tried to flee the country or escape justice”.

Hayes told the court she got her full US driver’s licence at 16 and when she moved to the UK she passed a written test about the highway code.

She told jurors: “I kept looking for traffic both ways, and I don’t know why I didn’t see him that day,” adding that traffic that Friday, at the start of the August bank holiday weekend, was “heavier than normal”.

A motorcyclist waiting at the junction behind Hayes gave evidence about what he had seen.

Graeme Pratt said he “could see the person in the driver’s seat looking both ways”.

Tests showed Mr Day had a “low concentration of THC” in his bloodstream, indicating he had taken cannabis some time before the collision.

An independent forensic collision investigator who gave evidence for the defence, Robert Wagstaff, said based on research Mr Day reacted more slowly to the car pulling out than would be expected.

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