Lorraine Barrow

Speeding driver receives suspended jail sentence for crash that killed cyclist

A BRIDGWATER woman has been sentenced for causing a crash that killed a cyclist who was just yards from her front door.

Victoria Hamer, of Sandpiper Close, was at the wheel of a red Volkswagen Polo on Thursday, September 17, 2020 when she collided with a bicycle being ridden by 57-year-old Lorraine Barrow near Blackford, close to Wincanton.

Hamer, 26, said she did not see Lorraine or the bike because the sun was too low. She was travelling at a minimum speed of 44mph at the time of collision; the speed limit in that area is 30mph.

Lorraine suffered significant head injuries in the collision and died at the scene. Her death came just three days after celebrating her 35th wedding anniversary with her husband Chris.

Close couple

In a victim personal statement, read out to the court, he said: “We were a couple who grew closer and closer together, very rarely doing anything apart. I really did win the marriage lottery.”

He described how difficult was to live so close to the spot where Lorraine died, but told Hamer she had ‘taken away my wife, my future, my life and I refuse to let you take away my home’.

He added: “They say there is someone for everyone. I was lucky enough to find my someone, spending more than half my life with her. She has unnecessarily been taken away, arguably 15 to 20 years too early.

“You (Hamer) have not only taken the life of my beloved Lorraine, but you changed my life, my future and my personality. I don’t just miss Lorraine – I pine for her every minute of every day. You have not broken my heart; you have ripped it out. I am a shell of the person I was before.”

Nightmares

Their daughter, Abi Thierens, in her statement to the court, described her mother as the ‘glue’ at the centre of their family and said she continues to have nightmares about what happened.

She said: “Unless you have gone through this yourself, you will not understand what my family and I are going through.”

“(Hamer) not only ripped my mum’s life away, she destroyed my dad’s, broke my nan’s, crushed mine, my son’s and altered many more. My life changed for the worse that day, forever.

“My dad is not the same man he was… he and mum were joined at the hip; they loved each other so deeply. My mum’s eyes would sparkle when he came through the door and the smile took over her face; now there is no sparkle, there is no smile, there is no her.”

In the victim personal statement prepared by Lorraine’s son Joe Barrow, he said she ‘didn’t have a bad bone in her body’ and that he doesn’t believe he’ll ever be able to forgive Hamer for what she did.

The Barrow family have been supported by a specially trained officer since the incident 13 months ago.

Hamer pleaded guilty to death by dangerous driving and was sentenced at Taunton Crown Court today.

Judge Paul Cook handed Hamer a prison sentence of 12 months, suspended for two years. He handed her a six-month curfew and ordered her to carry out 200 hours community service.

Hamer also received a 30-month driving disqualification, after which she will need to pass an advanced driving re-test before being able to get behind the wheel again.

Saddest of cases

Judge Cook said: “This is the most saddening of cases. The harm could not have been greater.

“You (Hamer) were well over the speed limit and you were driving into blinding sunlight. You were unable to see ahead of you, your proper reaction should have been to slow down – this was short-lived dangerous driving.”

He said in making his sentencing decision he had taken into account Hamer’s early guilty plea, remorse and assistance she gave at the scene.

Officer in the case Dai Nicholas said: “Lorraine’s family have endured a huge amount of pain and I’d like to pay tribute to their courage throughout the legal process.

“Although Hamer’s sentencing sees the court proceedings conclude, the agony and hurt they are feeling does not simply end with it. Our sympathies are with them and we continue to support them at this time.

“Victoria Hamer will wake up every day for the rest of her life knowing her reckless actions killed an innocent and beloved woman.

“I hope all motorists take heed of this tragic tale and recognise the importance of adhering to road safety measures and speed limits because failure to do so all too often has fatal consequences and rips people’s lives apart.”

 

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