Speeding driver who killed passenger in crash near Wellesbourne jailed

Matthew KeenMatthew Keen
Matthew Keen
A speeding driver who killed one of his passengers when he lost control of his car north of Wellesbourne has been jailed.

Matthew Keen, 32, of Magdalene Close, Shipston-on-Stour, had originally denied causing the death of 33-year-old passenger Amanda Emmott, also from Shipston, by dangerous driving but changed his plea to guilty at a pre-trial hearing.

At Coventry Crown Court, following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report, Keen was jailed for five years.

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The Judge, Recorder Peter Ievins, also disqualified him 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 that on the afternoon of Saturday 24 October 2014, 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.

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As they made their way through Halford and Wellesbourne, Mr Fearnehough recalled that Keen was ‘messing about,’ going round islands quickly, with the rear of the car sliding around.

Mr Simpson said: “Mr Fearnehough told him to slow down. The next thing he remembers is the car skidding and ending up in a field. He passed out, and when he came round he saw the defendant walking away.”

On a sharp right-hand part of an S-bend on the A429 north of Wellesbourne, Keen had lost control of the Golf.

An accident investigator said the car yawed 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.

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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 where she was given a full-body CT scan and, because she was taking Warfarin, there was an increased risk of internal bleeding.

But because she had a pre-existing heart condition, it was considered too risky to carry out exploratory surgery.

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On the morning of October 28 she was showing signs of renal failure, and it was eventually concluded that there was no realistic chance of survival and, after discussions with her family, life support was withdrawn.

Amanda’s younger sister Felicity had died eight years earlier aged 20, meaning her parents had lost two of their daughters at young ages.

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.

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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,”

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“This is the second time in eight years we have had to endure this ordeal.”

Justin Jarmola, defending, said: “Mr Keen, through me, wishes to apologise to the members of Amanda Emmott’s family. 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 for this 32-year-old man. Mr Keen fully realises the destruction he has caused to this family.”