27/02/2017 Inside Out South


27/02/2017

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Transcript


LineFromTo

Hello.

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So if the threat of three points on your licence and a 100 quid fine

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won't stop you from using your phone while driving, perhaps this will.

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I remember my mum walking me through the intensive care unit

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and it genuinely felt like a dream.

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It felt like I was watching it happen to somebody else.

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I kissed him on his forehead and told him it was OK to go.

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I'm totally to blame and it's my fault and I was stupid.

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I feel like I've been kept here to pay for the mistake that

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I've made and I do deserve it because someone's died.

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Tonight on Inside Out, an extraordinary meeting ?

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facing up to a fatal mistake.

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When I had the message that she wanted to meet me,

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I felt, why would she want to stare at a murderer?

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Cos that's what I'm called.

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I want to ask what he was thinking what possessed him to pick up

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his mobile phone behind the wheel and to let him know

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what we've had to go through.

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We know it's illegal but it seems that's still not enough

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We know it's illegal but it seems that's still not enough

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to stop us using our mobile phones when driving.

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Most of the time, no-one gets hurt but sometimes that

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distraction can be fatal.

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My name's Meg Williamson and my boyfriend, Gavin Roberts,

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was killed by a driver using his mobile phone

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last June on the A34.

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One car had been travelling in the southbound direction

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and Gavin had been going northbound.

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And it was the southbound car that had smashed through the central

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reservation and hit Gavin head on, on the other side of the road.

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I know why I was on my phone, I was making calls to my girlfriend

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at the time.

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I was scared of losing her.

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And, yeah, they were emotional calls and they were shouting calls.

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High emotion calls, raging calls that shouldn't have been made that

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night and I've got to live with that for ever and ever

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and ever and ever.

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At 24, Lewis Stratford's lucky to be alive.

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He could never have imagined his frantic calls

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to save his relationship would end a life.

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Gavin was an Australian through and through.

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He used to make me feel safe.

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We'd talked about holidays potentially going out

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to Australia together.

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The plans that we had were exciting.

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It was something we were both really looking forward to.

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Gavin and schoolteacher Meg met when he moved to Swindon.

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His work as an electrical engineer involved

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long shifts on the railways.

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He was working on the electrification and he would work

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nights mostly and then just before the accident was his last

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night shift and he was due to go and work days in the office.

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So he wouldn't be making any long late night journeys.

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He was on his way to work.

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And then he was about six miles or so from work

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and he just didn't make it.

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I don't remember the incident.

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I have no memory of any of it which, well,

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I don't want to remember it but I can't remember any of it.

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In Swindon, Meg was woken by a call from a friend telling her Gavin had

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been in an accident.

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I got to the hospital just after eight o'clock and they let me

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in straightaway to see him and I went in and sat next to him

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and he was just completely connected with tubes and monitors and I just

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remember sitting next to him, begging him,

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praying for him to wake up.

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I'd give anything.

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I'd have swapped places with him.

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Lewis was rushed to the same hospital.

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Doctors told his family to prepare for the worst.

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I've read letters that were sent from the hospital to my GP

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that night that said that I probably would deteriorate throughout

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the night and the doctors told my family I had a 70% chance

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of dying that night.

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But for Gavin's family and Meg, the news was even worse.

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The consultant took the family into the room and told them

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there was nothing they could do and I just remember my legs

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completely giving in.

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I remember my mum grabbing hold of me and walking me

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through the intensive care unit and it genuinely felt like a dream.

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It felt like I was watching it happen to somebody else.

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And as I stood up I kissed him on his forehead

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and told him it was OK to go.

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I told him not to be scared and that he could

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still look after me.

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Lewis wasn't told Gavin had died until after he was

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discharged from hospital.

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My dad and stepmum sat me down and they just told me everything.

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I cried.

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We was all in tears and I didn't want to get better then.

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I was like, I didn't want the physio,

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I didn't want the treatments.

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I didn't care about my injuries.

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Lewis has already pleaded guilty to causing Gavin's death

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by dangerous driving.

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Now, just days before he's due back in court to be sentenced,

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Meg has asked to meet him.

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I want to ask what he was thinking, what possessed him to pick

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up his mobile phone behind the wheel.

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I want know how he's feeling now,

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how it might affect him and to let him know how I'm feeling,

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how Gavin's family are feeling - what we've had to go through.

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When I had the message that she wanted to meet me I felt

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upset because I'm guilty and I feel like I'm a bad person.

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I feel like I'm hated everywhere and I thought she'd hate me.

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And I just I felt...why would she want to stare at a murderer?

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In a rare encounter, Lewis has agreed to meet Meg

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with our cameras present.

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Meeting will clearly be tough for both of them.

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Meg wants time to think through what she's going to say.

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Gavin and I used to come walking along here

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when the weather allowed it.

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It was just a time to kind of just be us two and block

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the rest of the world out.

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Do you know what the first thing you're going to

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say to Lewis might be?

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Have you thought about that?

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I'm hoping he's going to start the conversation.

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It's the morning of the meeting.

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Lewis is first to arrive.

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I'm really nervous.

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A little bit scared.

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I'm a little bit shaky, I can't keep still at the minute.

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Playing with my kind of elastic band to try

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and focus my mind a little bit.

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Just how he's going to react when he first sees me.

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I suppose how I'm going to react as well, if I'm

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going to kind of freak out or sit down

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and have a normal conversation with him and also

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what questions I'm going to ask him cos I don't

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want to miss anything out.

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I think I'm thinking about how he's feeling.

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Not so much kind of what he's done but how is he feeling seeing me

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so close and knowing that I'm going to be asking

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him the questions.

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Yeah, I dunno, it's so difficult to describe.

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I know I've caused a lot of pain, for a lot of people,

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with something that could have waited till the next day.

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I know that.

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I know what I've done, I know the lives I've ruined, yeah.

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I've ruined a lot of people's lives, happiness.

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And I deserve everything I get from whatever

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comes now - hate, anger.

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I can't, you know...

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I am sorry but I can't keep saying sorry cos

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I know people don't want to hear it.

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You can only just...

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Sorry's not going to make things better, I know.

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Ever.

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What were you arguing with the ex-girlfriend about?

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She was due to come up to me on the Friday night but she said no

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and then we was arguing all day Saturday so I'd go down

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on the Sunday morning, but I got in on Saturday night

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and I just drove down, angrily.

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She was on the phone as the crash happened and she just said she heard

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like scraping and brakes screeching and then obviously the impact

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was quite loud, she said.

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She said it was quite loud.

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He was just minding his own business that night and I just...

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That's what I think about all the time.

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I try and think what the other car, what he must have seen.

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I dunno, I hate to...

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I just wanted to know, did you say he was just

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going to work?

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He was just going to work.

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Just makes me feel horrible.

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Before the crash, Lewis worked as a painter and decorator.

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Life revolved around family and friends.

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I'm just a normal 24-year-old guy who just works,

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lives at home with his parents, can't afford a place of his own yet.

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I'm nothing special.

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I've lived here nearly 20 years with my family.

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Grown up round this area.

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Used to play football in the field over there with friends.

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And this is the way I'd walk to the football match.

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This is the stadium, the way we walk in.

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It's usually obviously busy, busier than it is now.

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That's where all the singing goes on, in that stand there,

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but my granddad likes to keep quiet so we sit with him in

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the south stand - keep him happy.

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He brings the sweets.

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This is where we go in to our seats.

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Well, we can go in any of them really but we tend

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to use three and four.

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And that leads us out to our seats ? front row on the south stand.

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It's a good seat.

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When someone gets convicted of a crime or an offence,

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you never get to see what that person's like

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and what background they got.

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Everyone assumes that they're bad.

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I went to work five days a week, came home, ate dinner,

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played darts and bar billiards in the week,

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come to football on the weekend.

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Love my family, love friends.

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But I've obviously lost my job, lost my car,

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I've ruined someone else's life.

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You don't know what's round the corner.

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You don't know what's coming tomorrow.

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Knowing how much Gavin meant to others is comforting to Meg.

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Today, she's meeting his workmates, Yuga and Ashton.

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Gavin was absolutely amazing.

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He was really really good at his work.

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He was one of the ones that you know you can depend on.

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It's rare you see such a high level engineer with such

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a good sense of humour.

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He was a funny guy and he was one of the best engineers

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I've ever worked with.

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This is one of the engineering trains that was named after Gavin

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in his honour and it's so special because it is one of the only trains

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that have been named after somebody and apart from Brunel

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in the past 100 years.

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It's so important for me to be able to remember him by what he used

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to love and the job that he did and how much of a difference

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he was making.

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I can't stop on the A34.

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I can't pull over to one side

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and remember him and see where it all happened.

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I laid flowers shortly after the accident with a police

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escort but just to be able to pass by this engineering train and smile

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is enough for me to kind of feel something and be happy

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that he's close by.

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Obviously, I felt like I hadn't done it.

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I was like, am I capable

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of something like that I didn't think I'd be...

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I couldn't believe that I could have done it but I had and I have

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to accept it and face it.

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What injuries did they tell you you had?

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I don't want to, like, go on about them

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because they're nothing compared

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to what happened but I had a leg, I broke this left leg

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and I tore my aorta, had a stent fitted in that and some

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internal injuries that they had to put me in a coma to keep me

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breathing because my lungs were quite squashed.

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My auntie's told me that I took off my mask my oxygen mask

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and said to her it was my fault.

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I kept saying it was my fault, it was my fault.

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They didn't tell me what had happened but I knew

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I was in trouble, cos the police were bringing my stuff

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from the car in the bags, yeah.

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How has it affected your family?

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They've obviously had to go into work and know their son's some

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sort of murderer as I've been called by some people,

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at my stepmum's workplace, saying your son's killed someone.

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Now he should be put in prison for life.

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Are you...?

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Are you angry at me?

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A little bit.

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But then so many people do it, so many people,

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but it was a stupid mistake.

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I don't want to hate you forever, I'm not that type of person,

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and eventually I'll probably be able to forgive you.

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But I just needed some questions answering first.

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To be honest, I expected the hate and the abuse.

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I don't know what you're like.

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I don't know...

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I expect it from anyone that seen me on the street.

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They want to have a go then I'll listen to and I'lI accept anything

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that people have got to say.

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I was scared to meet you.

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As a first time offender, prison's a daunting prospect

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for Lewis so he and his stepmum are looking up what he

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needs to take with him.

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I feel like I have been kept here to pay for this.

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I feel like I've been kept here to pay for the mistake

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I've made and punished, really.

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That's my dad, granddad in the middle, FA Cup and me

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with the Premier League.

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While Lewis packs mementos of the family he'll be leaving

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behind, Gavin's never far from his thoughts.

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Feel like I know him but I don't.

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I feel like I've met him, some of the dreams I've had.

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Tell me about those dreams.

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Just being in the car, raining, it's just darkness.

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And I'm sort of in the car.

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His face, his picture, it's just there.

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Do you think that will ever leave you?

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No.

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What do you think the public's perception of you is?

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Um, murderer, stupid idiot.

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I accept the stupid idiot.

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I'm not a murderer, that's one comment I won't accept

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because I didn't mean it.

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And I didn't mean to end his life.

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I was so angry, so angry.

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And it was Gavin's mum, really, that showed the compassion and said

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that we have to remember other people are involved and at that

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point it was more of a realisation for me that somebody's stupid

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mistake has caused something so traumatic for so many people.

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After the accident, Meg took solace in writing down all her thoughts

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from her time with Gavin.

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This wasn't our future.

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We had plans.

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Paris, Bruges, Northern Lights, Australia, graduation.

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I wrote to him every day.

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I filled a book with letters and notes, just so that he knew

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what I was up to, what I was doing, that I was thinking of him.

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You say you wrote to him.

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Was that while he was here or after he passed away?

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No, I wrote to him after he passed away.

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It was easier for me to talk to him like that.

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Why is it so important to you to have this box of memories?

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I guess because I'm scared I'm going to forget him.

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You start to have days where life feels normal and then you feel

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guilty because you're still here

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and I've been suffering really badly with my anxiety.

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Getting on to that road is really difficult but I have

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sisters that travel on it, friends who travel

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on it every single day.

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So it probably adds to my worry.

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I think I'm more conscious when I'm driving mostly of other

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drivers on the road now and if they are on their phone

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you know I just think that they don't realise and a lot

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of people just don't care cos they don't think it's

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going to happen to them.

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No-one thinks it will happen to them and it shouldn't take something

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like this for them to think, oh, well, let's not be using the phone,

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people should know before.

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I learned the hard way but it shouldn't have to be this way.

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So what now, going forwards?

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What happens?

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Every time I look at my phone I don't want to...

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I just look at this phone and I'm thinking,

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I don't, I can't want to answer it

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every time and if I could live without a phone I would as well.

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I wouldn't use a phone again.

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I won't ever drive again.

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Ever.

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What would you say to somebody who's going to pick up their phone

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behind the wheel today without even thinking about it?

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Don't do it cos picking up a phone no matter how nice you are or how

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good you are, accidents like this can happen to anyone on the road

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by using a phone.

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Something I gotta learn for, something I gotta pay the price

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for and I will learn from it.

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Thank you for agreeing to meet me and answering my questions.

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I know it's been hard.

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I just want you to know that I am sorry.

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When people hear about this they assume automatically that

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I'm some person that hasn't got on with life and people that just

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cause trouble day in day out but I know I'm not that guy.

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I've been brought up well, I never had a bad family,

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never had a bad upbringing, I've got no excuse for what's happened

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so I just want to say sorry for everything

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and thanks for meeting me.

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Yeah.

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At the end of a gruelling 50 minutes together,

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Meg gets some fresh air,

0:26:430:26:45

leaving Lewis to reflect on the meeting.

0:26:450:26:48

It's hard for me to get across to her how sorry I am

0:26:480:26:52

because something that's so tragic has happened like this.

0:26:520:26:57

Sorry's not enough and I said that it was a cheap way just to keep

0:26:570:27:02

saying sorry but there's no other way that I can think

0:27:020:27:05

of that would make it up.

0:27:050:27:10

I think he was a lot softer and a lot more open

0:27:100:27:12

than I expected him to be.

0:27:130:27:15

He was really forthcoming with his answers

0:27:150:27:18

and quite happy to talk.

0:27:180:27:21

He was very apologetic.

0:27:210:27:25

I'm pleased I've done it.

0:27:250:27:26

I'm pleased I've had the opportunity to let Lewis know how

0:27:260:27:29

I have been impacted, how I have been feeling but also,

0:27:290:27:31

you know, to hear him actually say that it was a stupid mistake

0:27:310:27:34

and that, you know, he's aware of what he's done and he's upset

0:27:340:27:41

and how it's affected him and his family has given me a little

0:27:410:27:44

bit of closure, I think.

0:27:440:27:48

I'm happy that I've met Meg, I'm happy that she wanted to meet me.

0:27:480:27:54

And I hope it provides closure that will help her move on and help us,

0:27:540:27:59

help me get through this as well, the next chapter of

0:27:590:28:03

serving a punishment.

0:28:030:28:06

But more importantly, hopefully, she finds a way

0:28:060:28:10

that it can help her.

0:28:100:28:14

Lewis Stratford will receive his sentence later this week.

0:28:170:28:21

I'd like to hear your thoughts about that story ? drop me an email.

0:28:210:28:25

[email protected]

0:28:250:28:28

That's it for now.

0:28:280:28:29

More stories from the South same time next week.

0:28:290:28:32

Till then, bye.

0:28:320:28:33

If you've been affected by any of the issues

0:28:360:28:38

raised in this programme, there's help and advice

0:28:380:28:42

at bbc.co.uk/actionline.

0:28:420:28:44

Join Sally Taylor on BBC local radio tomorrow morning from 9am

0:28:440:28:48

for a special programme discussing the safety of the A34.

0:28:480:28:55

Hello, I'm Riz Lateef with your 90-second update.

0:29:050:29:08

It's been described as the worst blunder in Oscars history -

0:29:080:29:10

when the wrong winner for best film was announced.

0:29:100:29:13

The stars of LaLa Land were accepting the award

0:29:130:29:15

when they were told the winner was actually Moonlight.

0:29:150:29:19

There's a warning that insuring your car could cost a lot

0:29:190:29:21

more because of new rules.

0:29:210:29:23

The changes mean higher compensation pay-outs.

0:29:230:29:25

But insurers say, in return, premiums will rise.

0:29:250:29:29

2.5 years after it was set up - the independent inquiry

0:29:290:29:31

into child sex abuse has begun its first public hearings.

0:29:310:29:35

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