I WILL never be able to forgive myself for what happened.
Those are the moving words of a Hampshire man who admitted causing his disabled wife’s death in a horror road smash.
Mark Watkinson, 63, said his life had been “a living hell” since the head-on crash in Romsey earlier this year which claimed the life of his wife, Christine.
Watkinson had been driving their new Vauxhall Combo mobility car along the A3090 Romsey Bypass Road, when the accident happened on May 17.
The couple, who had been married for 35 years and have one son, were returning to their home in Newton Lane, Romsey, following a morning out in Southampton.
But the city’s magistrates’ court heard how the vehicle slowly veered into the right hand lane, straight into the path of an oncoming lorry.
Mrs Watkinson, 57, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, was strapped into a wheelchair in the back of the specially adapted car at the time of the crash.
Despite attempts to resuscitate her, Mrs Watkinson died at the scene.
Watkinson, who has no recollection of the crash, was taken to hospital with broken ribs and minor head injuries, where nurses told him of his wife’s death.
Now he has pleaded guilty to causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving.
Magistrates admitted they “moved outside the normal parameters” to sentence Watkinson to a £400 fine and a one-year driving ban. He was also ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £85 costs.
But Watkinson told the Daily Echo he was already serving his own life sentence.
Struggling to hold back the tears, he said: “This feeling of guilt will stay with me for the rest of my life. I will never be able to forgive myself for what happened to Christine.
“When you lose a loved one after 35 years of marriage, a massive chunk of your life is taken away.
“Everything was looking up and we were even planning a cruise together. But there’s just this feeling of emptiness now. It’s been a living hell.”
Watkinson took early retirement from his job as an electrical technician eight years ago to spend more time with Christine.
But just two weeks later, the couple’s lives were turned upside down, when Christine was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Watkinson became a full-time carer for his wife with magistrates hearing how he was “absolutely devoted” to her.
Watkinson added: “I never begrudged caring for her. It was a 24-hour labour of love. When you take your vows you say ‘in sickness and in health, til death do us part’, and I was there for her right until the end.
“She was a very caring and loving wife, a woman with a warm heart and a gorgeous smile that lit up the room.”
Representing Watkinson at Southampton Magistrates’ Court, Chris Knight, who worked with Christine at Knight Polson solicitors for around 15 years, described the hearing as “one of the saddest cases that you will come across”.
Chairman of the magistrates’ bench Sonia Blandford said they had taken into account Watkinson’s previous clean driving record and good character, which was backed by 20 written references from friends and family.
Mrs Blandford added: “This will haunt you for the rest of your life, which, in itself, is punishment enough.”
Following the case, Watkinson admitted he had been “petrified” about going to court.
He added: “For the first time since she died, I can now think about Christine in the right light and grieve properly, without having the court case hanging over my head.
“I am pleased that magistrates made the right judgement. They have given me the chance to try and rebuild my life.”