A Cheshire man found guilty of causing the death of his wife in a car crash through careless driving has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Paul Bark, 43, of The Crofts, Farndon, was found guilty following a three-day trial held at Chester Crown Court of the offence, which happened on the B5130 near Farndon at 12.15pm on May 11, 2022.

Pauline Collings (married name Bark), 37, who grew up in Ellesmere Port, was killed instantly in the collision between the yellow Citroen DS3 DSport she was the front-seat passenger in, and a grey Citroen Berlingo van.

Both Bark, the driver of the yellow car, and van driver Mark Hughes were also seriously injured. The trial heard eyewitnesses giving evidence to say Bark had driven the van into the opposite site of the road while travelling at 60mph, leaving Mr Hughes with no opportunity to avoid the head-on collision.

At the sentencing hearing on Monday, June 10, those affected by the fatal collision fought back tears as they read out moving victim personal statements in court.

'True angel'

Tricia Collings read out statements on behalf of herself and three sisters Miranda, Amanda and Tracy, on how they and their family had been devastated by the loss of their 'beautiful angel' sister Pauline.


Pauline Collings (married name Bark) sadly died in the collision.

Pauline Collings (married name Bark) sadly died in the collision.


The sisters had said they could not believe their "true angel" had been taken away from them at such a young age and had found it difficult to grieve.

Mr Hughes said the collision had left him with multiple broken bones, a torn anterior cruciate ligament, whiplash and a possible brain injury. He was self-employed and being unable to work since the accident had put him under "huge financial strain".

He added he suffered with stress and anxiety, struggling to sleep, and was now a very nervous driver.

Prosecuting, Anna Price said Bark had one previous conviction, for dangerous driving in March 2000.

Defending, Jonathan Duffy said as well as a pre-sentence and psychiatric reports, a total of 32 references had been submitted on behalf of Bark, known as Geoffrey Bark.

They included references from his daughter's school, where the headteacher and deputy headteacher said Bark was extremely supportive of her, and there was "clearly a strong bond" between the two.

Bark's mother said the accident had left her son "a broken man" and he grieved for his wife every day, and "his primary hope for the future is to continue to be a good dad."

'No apparent reason'

Mr Duffy said of the defendant: "The feeling of responsibility and culpability will never leave him."


Paul Bark, known as Geoffrey Bark.

Paul Bark, known as Geoffrey Bark.


Judge Simon Berkson, sentencing, said "for no apparent reason" Bark had turned his steering wheel so his vehicle was in the opposite carriageway. Those affected are unable to get answers to Bark's "extremely unsafe" manoeuvre as the defendant was unable to remember anything about the collision, he added.

The judge accepted Bark was "stricken with grief" and immediate custody would have serious consequences for him and his daughter.

Bark was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years. During that time he must complete 20 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement and 200 hours unpaid work. He was banned from driving for 12 months.

He must also pay a contribution to the trial costs of £1,000, plus a surcharge.

The family of Pauline Collings had previously given a statement: "Pauline was and always will be a very special close sister to all her sisters and brothers, a daughter and a very special mother to her daughter.

"Nothing was too much for Pauline; Pauline was the life and soul, she was kind and she had a pure heart of gold, she would go out of her way for anyone and especially her sister Tricia.

"She loved spending her time with her daughter and her sisters, and she loved visiting her family to see her mum and brother Roy and would have a cup of tea and a custard cream.

"Pauline would very often go for dog walks with her sisters and daughter, afternoon tea, lunch at mums with her sister Tricia, spa days, holidays; Pauline loved her little village job, going to the gym and so much more.

'Incredibly tragic case'

"Pauline will always be remembered as a very pretty Barbie doll, with her gorgeous luscious long thick hair, she was and always will be a true angel and she touched the lives of so many who knew her.

"Pauline was like the wind, she was a breath of fresh air and Pauline's memory now lives on through her sisters, daughter and all her family."

Sergeant Russell Sime added: “This is an incredibly tragic case, in which a woman lost her life, and a family has been left trying to come to terms with this sudden loss.

“Although nothing is going to bring Pauline back, I hope the conclusion of this case today, more than two years after the original incident, will bring them some sense of closure.

“I also hope this incident serves as a reminder to ensure you are paying full attention while driving. The consequences of not respecting the roads can be catastrophic.”