A motorist whose careless driving caused his girlfriend’s death in a horror crash near Keswick during a winter storm has been jailed.
Joseph Rowland, now 21, left his home in Thursby, near Carlisle, on Sunday, 28 November, 2021, before collecting his 19-year-old partner, Lana Maddison, of Silloth, and a friend in Torpenhow.
They ate at the home of friends near Keswick before setting off home at around 8:15pm, heading back along the A591.
Carlisle Crown Court heard there was snow, ice and flooding as Storm Arwen set in during the early evening. And at around 8:30pm, Rowland’s Ford Fiesta left the road near Lyzzick Hall on a road section between Crosthwaite roundabout and Dodd Wood where the northbound route traverses a slight right hand corner.
“The car failed to make the bend and left the road at speed where it then collided with a tree,” prosecutor Andrew Evans told the court.
Miss Maddison, a 19-year-old rear seat passenger, suffered a severe, unsurvivable brain injury from which she died in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary on 3 December, 2021.
Other road users described weather conditions that day as “awful”, “hazardous”, “appalling”, and the A591 “impassable” at over 30mph. Emergency services staff spoke of the care needed to negotiate the route. One experienced medic driving the second ambulance to reach the scene spoke of reducing her speed to 30mph on the A66 and then travelling even slower having joined the A591.
A police collision investigator concluded, using data from Rowland’s own car, that it was being driven at 55mph four seconds before the crash before braking, with the impact at 33mph. He was not wearing a self belt and later accepted his friend told him to be careful on a bend just before the crash.
Mr Evans said: “(The investigator) states that Mr Rowland was driving too fast for the conditions, which subsequently resulted in a loss of control of his vehicle which he was unable to rectify, and that this was a main contributory factor to the collision.”
Rowland was initially charged with causing death by dangerous driving but later admitted the lesser alternative charge of causing death by careless driving.
During his sentencing hearing on Monday, a statement provided by Lana’s mother, Lisa, said there were “not enough words” to describe the loss of a beautiful daughter and sister. “Our lives changed for ever that day,” she stated. “She made our little family complete in so many ways.”
Lana — a student mental health nurse — was a real “pocket rocket”, “a true friend to all”, “full of life and energy” in a home “full of fun, love and laughter.”
“Since Lana’s tragic death our lives have been completely shattered,” said her mother. “There is no colour in our lives any more — only grey.” “Our hearts are truly broken,” she added. “The hole that has been left is immeasurable.”
The court heard Rowland had shown genuine remorse for an offence which, suggested his barrister, Kim Whittlestone, was “due to inexperience rather than irresponsibility”.
Judge Nicholas Barker heard positive mitigation but imposed a 10-month prison sentence, warning young and old adults that driving brought a “high burden of responsibility and extreme consequences”.
“The consequences of your decision were, and remain, utterly tragic,” Judge Barker told Rowland. “I do consider you took a reckless disregard for the conditions.” He added: “You were in a relationship with Lana. I know you will bear the weight of your actions for the rest of your life.”
Rowland must serve a three-year driving ban when released from custody.
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...