Norfolk teenager admits causing the death of her friend, 18, by careless driving after all-night Halloween party

Eleanor Coleman's Fiat Punto after it had collided with a lorry in a lay-by on the A47 at North Burlingham Eleanor Coleman's Fiat Punto after it had collided with a lorry in a lay-by on the A47 at North Burlingham

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
1:40 PM

A teenager who had been out all night partying for Halloween was given 15 months custody today after she admitted causing the death of her friend by careless driving.

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Ellie Tweed, who died in a road traffic accident on the A47 at North Burlingham. Picture: Submitted by familyEllie Tweed, who died in a road traffic accident on the A47 at North Burlingham. Picture: Submitted by family

Eleanor Coleman, 19, of School Road, Runham, near Great Yarmouth, went off the road and crashed into the back of a parked lorry on the A47 at North Burlingham before the Fiat Punto she was driving burst into flames.

The lorry driver Peter Jolly managed to save Coleman’s life by dragging her out of the car moments before it exploded and got passers by to also help get the other three passengers safely from the car.

But Ellie Tweed, 18, who was a front-seat passenger died at the scene, and was trapped inside the burning car, Norwich Crown Court heard.

The accident happened just after 5am and the court heard that Coleman had been up most of the night partying in Norwich and they had gone out for the evening in fancy dress outfits for Halloween.

Floral tributes to Ellie Tweed, who died in a car crash on the A47 near North Burlingham.Floral tributes to Ellie Tweed, who died in a car crash on the A47 near North Burlingham.

Chris Youell, prosecuting, said tests showed she had taken ecstasy and cannabis although there was no evidence that she was under the influence of any of these substances when the crash happened.

Coleman, who herself was injured in the crash, admitted causing the death of Ellie Tweed on November 1, last year.

The court heard the other three passengers in the car received serious injuries and those sitting in the back had not been wearing seat-belts.

Coleman was given 15 months custody in a young offenders’ institution and given a three-year driving ban.

She was also ordered to take an extended driving test before getting back behind the wheel.

Judge Peter Jacobs told her: “You were tired and not in the mindset to drive at all.”

He added that it was a tragedy for all concerned and told Coleman: “You will regret this for the rest of your life.”

Michael Clare, for Coleman, said she did not want him to make any excuses.

“She’s here to be punished and accepts that.”

He said that in a letter which she had handed in to the judge she had said: “I hate myself for everything that has happened and will never forgive myself.”

He said that she got a head injury in the crash and had no recollection of what happened.

“She had been awake for a long time and partying.

“It’s difficult to imagine that she would have fallen asleep. She was distracted in some way and the vehicle had left the road.”

He said that the actions of the lorry driver had almost certainly saved her life.

“His bravery may well have saved her life and others as well.”

After the case Steve Matthews of Norfolk Serious Collision investigation team said: “These girls have all been left with lasting injuries and severe impairments in some cases, and one has sadly lost her life.

“A fun night out very quickly turned into a nightmare which has changed forever the lives of those involved and their families and friends and our sympathies remain with them.”

Inspector David Ball, of Norfolk road policing unit, said: “Eleanor Coleman has paid a very high price for driving carelessly.”

He warned: “I would ask people to think about what happened last Halloween before they head out this year to enjoy festivities.”

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