Grantham

Newly qualified driver avoids jail despite causing fatal crash with ‘utterly stupid’ manoeuvre

A newly qualified motorist caused a fatal road crash when she carried out an “utterly stupid” manoeuvre cutting up another as she attempted to exit the A1, a court heard.

Undergraduate student Sally Edmondson, 20, was being given directions by her partner Christopher Young when she realised she was about to miss her turn off.

Edmondson, who was travelling at 80mph in the outside lane, cut up another car and entered the slip road at such a speed that she lost control.

Her VW Polo careered onto the grass verge before colliding with a metal object that had been abandoned at the roadside.

Christopher, 24, who was in the front passenger seat suffered serious injuries and was pronounced dead on the same day.

Sarah Knight, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that the collision occurred as the couple were heading north from their home in Bedford to attend a christening.

Miss Knight said: “The defendant was a relatively inexperienced driver having passed her test in September 2015.

“The junction with the A52 was to be the exit for them to take. It appears clear that the deceased was using Google Maps to navigate and indicate the route they needed to take.

“There was proper signing indicating the slip road in advance. It plainly must have been missed.”

Miss Knight said that Edmondson was driving in the outside lane and overtook another motorist at around 80 mph before realising she needed to turn off the main road.

“Having overtaken she swerved in front of the car and into the slip road leading to the A52. It was a late turn. It was an abrupt manoeuvre and it was over the speed limit.

“The defendant failed to keep control of the vehicle. It went over the grass and into the steel object. It came to rest in a hedge.”

Edmondson later told a passer-by who had stopped to assist: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It was all my fault. I was going too fast.”

Edmondson, 20, of Royd House Way, Long Lee, Keighley, West Yorkshire, admitted causing death by careless driving on April 10, 2016 as a result of the smash on the slip road leading to the A52 near Grantham.

She was given a 10 month jail sentence suspended for 18 months and 150 hours of unpaid work.

She was also disqualified from driving for three years and will have to pass an extended retest before she can drive again.

Deputy Judge Michael Stokes QC, passing sentence, said that Edmondson had taken responsibility for what she did and he urged Christopher’s family to show forgiveness.

The judge told her: “You were driving at an excessive speed. You cut in front of a vehicle in the inside lane when you were about to miss the junction you intended to take.

“You entered the slip road at a seriously excessive speed in a fairly old car that, in your hands, could not cope with the force that was generated by the speed. It was almost inevitable that the car would become unstable.

“One can fully understand the feelings generated by what was an utterly stupid decision on her [the defendant’s] part.

“All I can say to Christopher’s family is this. From my experience of these cases there is only one way to progress from now, difficult though it is, and that is the road of forgiveness.

“Forgiveness is the only way out of the situation.”

Andrew Stranex, in mitigation, said that Edmondson had herself been badly affected by the fatal collision and has since given up her studies and moved back to West Yorkshire.

He told the court: “She has returned to her family home in Keighley and she is working as a book-keeper.”

He said Edmondson has taken responsibility for the collision and has since expressed remorse.

Christine Young, Christopher’s mother, describing her family’s devastation in a victim impact statement read out in court, said “Sunday, April 10 2016 was the worst day of our lives when Chris died following a road collision.

“That day has become our living nightmare which continues every day and will do for the rest of our lives.

“The defendant will move on in time. That is something we can never do.”