An army driving instructor lost control of his vehicle causing a head-on collision killing another motorist, Lincoln Crown Court was told.
Jason Jones, who serves in the Royal Tank Regiment, was driving north along the A15 towards Lincoln on Boxing Day morning when he was distracted.
The court was told that Jones took one hand off the steering wheel to deal with his pet dog which had been “whining” on the back seat during the journey.
Dawn Pritchard, prosecuting, said that Jones’ Subaru Impreza struck the nearside verge and when he tried to correct his steering he veered onto the opposite side of the road colliding head-on with a vehicle coming in the other direction.
The other driver Gordon Troy, 41, a teacher and father of two, who lived at Welton and was originally from County Waterford in Ireland, was killed as a result of the collision.
Dawn Pritchard, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that Jones, who serves with the Royal Tank Regiment, was speeding immediately before the collision.
Miss Pritchard said: “The Subaru lost control. The nearside wheel caught the verge. There was then an over-correction. He steered sharply to the right and went into the southbound lane into the path of Mr Troy.
“Mr Troy was in his correct lane and did not contribute to the collision.”
Mr Troy suffered head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. The Subaru caught fire and both Jones and his partner, who was four months pregnant at the time, were helped out by passersby who stopped to assist. Jones was himself seriously injured suffering four fractured vertebrae, three broken ribs and fractures to his cheekbone, nose, his thigh, leg and ankle.
Tests showed that neither driver had been drinking.
Miss Pritchard told the court: “The defendant was clearly distracted by events in the car.
“The defendant gave an account in interview. He said he wasn’t in a rush. He remembered the dog crying in the back. He said he pushed him back. He said he could have asked his partner Samantha to deal with the dog but said that hindsight was a wonderful thing.”
Jason Jones, 29, of Salisbury, Wilts, admitted causing death by careless driving as a result of the incident on the A15 at Metheringham, on 26 December 2015.
He was given an eight month jail sentence suspended for two years and banned from driving for 18 months.
Judge Simon Hirst, passing sentence, told him: “It appears your dog was whining on the back seat. Your choice was to take your left hand off the wheel and look towards the dog. In doing so your car went a fraction off the road to the left. You turned the vehicle to the right and over-compensated. You lost control and struck Mr Troy’s car.”
The judge said that sentencing guidelines meant that he had to take into account the serious injuries suffered by Jones and the fact he had a good driving record.
Richard Sheldon, in mitigation, said that Jones is likely to be discharged from the Army because of his injuries which left him in a wheelchair for five months. He is still receiving treatment as an in-patient at a rehabilitation unit.
Mr Sheldon said: “He is deeply sorry.
“He is a young man for whom duty and service are paramount. He served in Afghanistan. He is well thought of in his unit.”