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."

News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention