Hit-and-run killer who was a banned driver gets six years

By Neville Dean
Sunday 01 December 2013 03:35

A man who killed a primary school teacher in a hit-and-run crash as he tried to escape police while barred from driving was jailed for six years yesterday and banned for a further 20 years.

Anthony Watts, 23, from Reading, was driving a stolen Vauxhall Vectra at high speed on the wrong side of the road when he collided head-on with a Renault Clio being driven by Helen Clark, who was 23.

Miss Clark's fiancé, Sam Watkins, found out she had been killed when he stumbled across the scene of the crash in Tilehurst, Reading, on 27 January this year. He had gone to look for her after she failed to arrive home from work.

Reading Crown Court was told that Watts had no insurance and a plain-clothed police officer spotted that the Vectra had a false number plate.

Patsy Byrne, for the prosecution, said that by the time the officers had caught up with Watts they were too late.

Witnesses reported seeing Watts driving at between 80 and 90mph and overtaking vehicles on his near-side in the moments before he ploughed head-on into Miss Clark's Clio, killing her instantly. He fled the scene but handed himself in to police eight days later.

Ms Byrne said Miss Clark had just started a job at Birch Copse School in Tilehurst, Reading, and was already well liked by pupils and respected by her colleagues. She said Miss Clark's family, friends and colleagues had been left devastated by her death. "This young woman was a beloved daughter, sister and fiancée," she said.

She told the court that Watts had a large number of previous convictions for motoring offences and had flouted a driving ban four times in 2002.

Neil Moore, for the defence, said Watts had not stolen the vehicle but had been lent it by an acquaintance a couple of days before the crash.

He said that although Watts had convictions for motoring offences, he was an educated man. He added that Watts had also written a letter to the victim's family.

Watts pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving while disqualified, handling stolen goods, driving without insurance and failing to stop at the scene of an accident. He asked for an offence of stealing a bicycle to be taken into consideration.

Speaking after the hearing, Miss Clark's fiancé, Mr Watkins, said the sentence Watts had received was "far from adequate".