Teenager locked up over family crash deaths

An 18-year-old was sentenced to five years in a young offenders' institution today after causing the deaths by dangerous driving of a mother and daughter while they were out for a Sunday stroll.

Jamie Smith, of Alamein Avenue, Chatham, Kent, ploughed into Elsie Blades, 84, and Marilyn Herlihy, 60, as they crossed the road on a bend near the elder woman's home in Station Road, Strood, on July 26 last year.



Smith, who had held his licence for five months, was likely to have been driving his Seat Ibiza at around 50mph despite there being a 30mph speed limit in place, Maidstone Crown Court heard.



Prosecutor Peter Forbes said investigations by police had found that the maximum controlled speed that would have been possible to take the bend was 47mph.



It was also calculated that the distance that Smith would have been able to see the two women from was 44 metres. Had he been driving at the limit of 30mph there would have been a maximum stopping distance of 41 metres, so would have been within the distance.



"However, there was a loss of control causing the vehicle to slew across the carriageway, ultimately resulting in the impact," Mr Forbes said.



He said that when interviewed by police, Smith told them he was driving at about 35mph. When he saw the two pedestrians he said he panicked and he put his foot on the brake but it slipped off.



The teenager also said he tried to steer away from them but it felt like the wheel would not turn.



Mr Forbes told the court this was called understeer, and sometimes happened when vehicles were travelling at high speeds.



Mrs Blades was pronounced dead at the scene while her daughter was airlifted to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel but died soon afterwards.



Moving victim impact statements were read out during the hearing, in which their relatives spoke of the pain of losing members of two generations of the same family at once.



Mrs Herlihy's husband of 40 years, Derek, and their two children Liz and Gordon, described how they lived their "worst nightmare" as they waited for news of her condition, already knowing that Mrs Blades was dead.



They were told at the hospital they would be able to see her but she suffered a fatal heart attack before this could happen and they did not get to see her before she died.



Passing sentence, Judge Andrew Patience said he took into account the fact that Smith felt genuine remorse, was of good character, had no previous convictions or driving offences, and had pleaded guilty to the two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.



But he added that the sentence must "serve as a warning to others of the devastating consequences which can follow from a failure to properly observe the rules of the road and, in particular, speed limits.



"Of course you did not set about that day to harm anyone. However, because of the dangerous speed you were driving that car, about 50mph, you brought about the deaths of these two persons," he added.



Smith, dressed in a black suit, wept throughout much of the hearing and stood in the dock clutching his hands in front of himself as the sentence was passed.



He was also disqualified from driving for seven years and told he must then take an extended driving test if he wants to get behind the wheel again.



Following the sentencing, the family said in a statement: "We are glad that this has finally been concluded.



"Nothing can bring back the people that we've lost.



"We have the life sentence of knowing that their lives were cut short by the senseless acts of Jamie Smith.



"We would like to thank our friends and family for their support, as well as Kent Police."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor