Poll: Senior judge calls for road death court cases to be televised after Norfolk teenager’s A47 Halloween crash
11:24 26 October 2012
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011
A senior judge has said court cases which follow deaths on our roads should be televised – so that drivers see the devastation they can cause.
Judge Peter Jacobs spoke out after sentencing a young woman who killed a friend and seriously injured three other passengers, when she crashed into a parked lorry as she drove home from an all-night party.
Judge Jacobs said the case was a tragedy for all concerned, as he sent Eleanor Coleman from Runham, near Great Yarmouth to a young offenders’ institution for 15 months.
Coleman, 19, admitted causing the death of her 18-year-old friend Ellie Tweed, on the A47 at North Burlingham, as she drove home from a Halloween party on November 1 last year.
Coleman, who said she would never forgive herself, was also given a three-year driving ban when she appeared at Norwich Crown Court for sentencing this week.
Judge Jacobs said the case was a tragedy for everyone concerned and said he wished that people would learn from cases like this.
He said televising some sentencing hearings might help to serve as a warning.
“People would think twice before they did what this young lady did because there is no going back,” he said.
“Whatever sentence I pass will satisfy nobody. In this particular case, I think people need to see the effect that death has – the effect that road accident deaths have.”
The effect on Ellie Tweed’s family was devastation – not to mention the three friends left with serious injuries like a broken neck, punctured lung and multiple fractures.
Coleman’s remorse would have weighed in her favour. Causing death by careless driving carries a maximum sentence of five years.
Fifteen months is the Crown Prosecution service’s suggested “starting point” for the most serious cases, where the driver’s conduct is bordering on dangerous.
Causing death by dangerous driving carries a sentence of up to 14 years, although the minimum term specified by the CPS is two years.
Michael Moore, the speeding driver who ran over Jamie Butcher when he ran a red light on a pedestrian crossing, was given 43 months. He showed no remorse before being sentenced.
The number seriously killed and injured on Norfolk’s roads has fallen from more than 570 to 359 a year since 2005.
There were 39 fatal collisions on Norfolk’s roads last year, 36 in 2010 and 49 in 2009. Not all of them resulted in criminal charges.
In the year to March 2011, three people were charged with causing death by dangerous driving and seven with causing death by careless driving. In the year to March 2012, there was one person charged with causing death by dangerous driving and five with causing death by careless driving.
Liz Voysey’s 19-year-old daughter, Amy Upcraft, was killed in a collision on the A47 near the family home in Dereham, in 2004.
The driver whose van ploughed into her car at 80mph got a £300 fine and seven points on his licence.
Mrs Voysey, who worked for campaign groups Brake and Road Peace after losing Amy, said she supported call by Jamie’s family for tougher sentencing.
“I applaud what this family are doing,” she said.
“The whole thing needs to have a serious shake-up.
“Anyone that kills on the roads should be treated in exactly the same way as someone who uses a knife or a gun.
“In those cases where there’s no intent, it’s called manslaughter.”