Reading 'text' teenager jailed for causing death by dangerous driving

12/04/2011

A Reading teenager has been jailed for causing the death of a grandmother, after she read a text message whilst driving.

Keisha Wall (19), from Alston Walk, Caversham, veered off the Forbury Road in Reading, into the path of pedestrian Christine Lyon, crushing her against a wall. Mrs Lyon (63), from Furze Platt, Maidenhead, died at the scene, on 4 February last year. Wall was driving a Suzuki Jimny, which she had received as a Christmas present just weeks before.

A police investigation showed that she had received and read a text message on her mobile phone just moments before the crash. She denied responsibility, instead claiming her mother had grabbed the wheel after she was distracted by another car overtaking her on the dual carriageway. The case went to trial and on 10 March Wall was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.

Yesterday (11/4) at Reading Crown Court, Wall was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, plus she was disqualified from driving for three years, by Judge Stephen John.  He described her as 'an intelligent, hard-working, decent and caring young woman from a close-knit family', but added 'this was a wholly avoidable accident, and only you are to blame.'

CPS prosecutor, Charles Ward-Jackson, said: 'It is always difficult to prove conclusively that a motorist has read a particular text at a particular moment, but the verdict of the jury in this case demonstrated that they were satisfied that this was the cause of this fatal accident, and they rejected the implausible explanation that the defendant's mother grabbed the steering wheel.

'This was a difficult sentencing for the judge, as on the one hand there was the death of a much-loved lady and on the other was the future of an intelligent and promising young woman. As the judge said in sentencing, some would criticise him for being too harsh; some for being too lenient. In the event, the judge's sentence followed the Sentencing Guideline Council and the Court of Appeal authorities.

'The starting point for an offence of this type, where the driver is 'avoidably distracted' is three years, with a range of two to five years. The Judge was bound to make a deduction for the defendant's good character and personal mitigation. None of that however detracts from the seriousness of this tragic case, in which Mrs Lyons lost her life and her family lost a much-loved mother and grandmother.'

'The use of mobile phones when driving is all too common, even though it is a criminal offence. This case demonstrates the tragic consequences of flouting this particular law. It is to be hoped that the day will come when the use of a mobile phone whilst driving is as socially unacceptable as drink driving.'