Mother who killed daughter and friend in car crash is jailed

By Jacqui Walls
Tuesday 10 February 2004 01:00

A mother who admitted causing the deaths of her daughter and her friend by driving dangerously on the way to a birthday party was jailed for two years yesterday.

Heather Thompson, 41, was driving at speeds of up to 80mph along a country lane in Lincolnshire after picking up the two girls from a drama class.

Abbey Thompson, who was celebrating her 12th birthday that afternoon, and her friend Lauren Wheeler, 12, were laughing in the back of the car when she lost control. They were thrown through the back windscreen as the vehicle overturned and were foundin a ditch at the side of the road.

A judge at Lincoln Crown Court heard that Thompson had collected the two youngsters from drama lessons in Bracebridge in June, where she had remarked to surprised parents that she could get home to Woodhall Spa, 15 miles away, in only 15 or 20 minutes. She was travelling through Martin Fen when several witnesses reported her overtaking a number of cars at high speed along a bumpy section of the road.

Gareth Wheetman, for the prosecution, read a number of statements from drivers, who reported that she was going "far too fast for the condition of the road". The defendant was found to be crawling out of the driver's window after the accident, hysterically crying: "I just lost control."

Mr Wheetman said she asked where the children were and, initially, there was no sign of them. People at the scene tried to resuscitate the girls but both were dead. He added that a post-mortem examination revealed the youngsters had suffered fatal injuries to their heads and chests. A forensic examination of the scene of the accident found that the probable speed of her Rover 216 at the time it left the road was about 72mph.Thompson told police in interview how the girls were laughing because they had hit bumpy parts but when she lost control she heard Abbey cry: "Mummy, please stop it."

Then she recalled the vehicle going over and over.

Deborah Wheeler, Lauren's mother, said in a statement that the family had been totally devastated by the tragic death. She said she remembered the 12-year-old as a girl who was "always smiling, always happy", who wanted to be a Hollywood actress.

Kaiser Nazir, defending Thompson, said: "Mrs Thompson ... has never attempted to lessen her guilt for this incident and the tragic and devastating effect of that afternoon."