A SPEEDING driver who killed one of his passengers when he lost control of his car on an S-bend near Wellesbourne as they were heading to the Mop fair in Warwick has been jailed.
Matthew Keen had originally denied causing the death of 33 year-old passenger Amanda Emmott by dangerous driving, but changed his plea to guilty at a pre-trial hearing.
And at Coventry Crown Court, following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report, Keen, of Magdalene Close, Shipston, was jailed for five years.
The Judge, Recorder Peter Ievins, also disqualified the 32 year-old from driving for seven-and-a-half years – which means the ban will last for five years following his release on licence.
Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said on the afternoon of Saturday 24 October 2015, Miss Emmott and Lee Fearnehough were at the Falcon Inn in Shipston when Keen came in.
He had a pint of lager, and there was a discussion between them about going to the Mop fair in Warwick, and Keen offered to drive them there in his VW Golf.
They set off, with Mr Fearnehough in the front passenger seat, and 33 year-old Miss Emmott in the rear.
As they made their way through Halford and Wellesbourne, Mr Fernehough recalled that Keen was ‘messing about,’ going round islands quickly, with the rear of the car sliding around.
Mr Fearnehough told him to slow down but the next thing he remembered was the car skidding and ending up in a field. He passed out, and when he came round he saw Keen walking away.
Keen had lost control of his recently bought Golf on a sharp right-hand part of an S-bend on the A429
An accident investigator said the car went across the road and mounted the off-side kerb, crossed the verge going almost completely sideways and hit the end of a bridge parapet, then flew sideways across the stream and came to rest in a field.
Mr Simpson pointed out Keen was aware of the bend.
Mr Fearnehough got out of the car, and Miss Emmott undid her seatbelt and ‘flopped out of the car’ onto the ground where she lay holding her stomach.
As other people stopped, including a doctor, and went to her assistance, they saw Keen walking away from the scene.
Miss Emmott was rushed to University Hospital in Coventry but sadly, five days later, it was concluded there was no realistic chance of survival and, after discussions with her family, life support was withdrawn.
She had died from peritonitis resulting from internal injuries she had suffered in the crash.
Police officers who attended the scene of the crash made efforts to find the driver, including using a tracker dog and the force helicopter, and traced the car to Keen’s employer.
They then got in touch with Keen, who sounded slurred and said he did not know where he was, and he handed himself in the following morning.
By then it was too late to carry out a breath test on Keen, who Mr Simpson said had a conviction in 2001 for taking a car and driving with excess alcohol.
In a statement read to the court Miss Emmott’s mother Jacqueline Moore said: “Amanda was our beautiful and deeply-loved daughter. She was loyal, funny, clever and creative.
“We now face the rest of our lives without her. The pain of that void is indescribable.
“The accident took place while we were in Australia, and our little girl died before we were able to get back. It was the worst day of our lives.”
And she heartbreakingly added: “This is the second time in eight years we have had to endure this ordeal. Eight years ago we lost her younger sister Felicity at the age of 20.”
Justin Jarmola, defending, said Keen wanted to apologise to Amanda’s family.
He added: “He further knows that words are utterly insignificant in this matter.
“The grief he feels for Amanda Emmott’s family, and the pain they will continue to have, is palpable.”
Jailing Keen, Recorder Peter Ievins told him nothing the court could say or do could adequately reflect the pain and grief suffered by Amanda’s family.
The judge added: “Amanda had her life in front of her and, in a moment, it was taken away. It was a double tragedy for her parents who had already lost their other daughter.
“The only possible cause of this accident was that you were going too fast. You lost control, and it left the road and became airborne.
“You walked off and left the scene. I accept you were shocked, but your departure is an aggravating feature.
“By the time you handed yourself in, it was too late to take a breath test, but I do believe drink played a large part in what happened that night.
“I accept you are remorseful now, but your remorse was not immediate.”