London - A woman who was divorcing her cheating husband at the time he was killed by a speeding driver has been awarded £100 000 (around R1 750 000) in damages.
Cathryn Craven, 50, claimed that she would have been reconciled with her husband Jayson had he not died – even though she had left him after learning that he had had an affair.
But before the divorce was finalised he was ‘killed instantly’ while crossing a dual carriageway in Coventry when he was hit by Terry Davies’s Audi Quattro, which was travelling at 86mph on a stretch of road with a 40mph limit, a court heard.
Travel agent Mrs Craven, who was married to her husband for 15 years and had three children with him, then brought a claim for £676,985 against the driver.
She said she and her husband would probably have got back together and that she ‘loved him deeply’.
Mrs Craven told the High Court: ‘He clearly loved me. We had been through a lot of emotions.
‘There had been sadness. He had been angry. He had been quiet and very loving. He sent me flowers at Christmas.’ But Davies’s insurers denied there was a ‘substantial chance’ of this happening and claimed the marriage was doomed.
At the time of Mr Craven’s death, he and his wife were in a ‘cooling-off period’ between the pronouncement of their decree nisi and the decree absolute.
A ruling made public yesterday found that the whole family was devastated and that Mrs Craven still loved him.
But it added that it was clear she had no longer felt able or wanted to live in the couple’s £475,000 five-bedroom detached home in Coventry.
A judge said the marriage had been in trouble for a considerable time before the separation and the evidence was clear that, by November 2013, she had had enough.
She was determined to proceed with the divorce and would have done so, whatever advice she received, whether financial or otherwise, he added. Judge Jeremy Freedman said: ‘In these circumstances, regrettably, I am unable to find that there was a significant chance that, but for his death, the deceased and the claimant would have been reconciled.’
His view was that the chances of the marriage being saved were ‘no more than a speculative possibility’. It followed that Mrs Craven’s claim for loss of financial dependency was limited to what she would have received in maintenance payments.
With other sums covering bereavement, funeral expenses and awards to the children, the total damages were £101,514.
The High Court in London was told that Mr Craven, 48, had an affair after tensions ‘drove a wedge’ between the couple and they separated in January 2014. It had led to her suing for divorce and leaving the family home with her younger children.
Mr Craven was killed in June that year. In 2015 Davies was jailed for four years for causing death by dangerous driving.
Mrs Craven’s barrister, Marcus Grant, said the couple would have saved their marriage because of Mrs Craven’s financial dependence on her husband. This would have meant that her ‘desire to be divorced from him would have been lessened to the point of extinction’.