Hit-and-run driver jailed after killing 'shining beacon' NHS worker and daughter of MP Peter Dowd

"Jennie was caring, thoughtful, selfless, funny, vivacious, beautiful, enthusiastic, admired, lovely and loving." Credit: Liverpool Echo

A beloved NHS worker described as a "shining beacon" was knocked off her bike and killed by a hit and run driver.Jennifer Dowd, daughter of Bootle MP Peter Dowd, was struck by by a car while out cycling on September 27 2020.The NHS project manager worked tirelessly to help other people, from the homeless in the UK to orphans in Africa.But her life was "cut short just as the future looked full of hope" after she was struck by Lucy Ashton's Ford Focus, before the care support worker left her to die in Lunt Road, Sefton Village.

The crash scene where Jennifer Dowd died. Credit: Liverpool Echo

Ashton, 24, of Lunt Road, was jailed for 12 months on Monday, after admitting causing death by careless driving and failing to stop.

She said the sun was in her eyes and she left her victim lying in the road because she "panicked".Liverpool Crown Court heard the care support worker had been up until 2.30am arguing with her boyfriend and was late for work.

Judge David Aubrey, QC, said she was in a "rush" or "not focused on her driving" and should have seen the cyclist.

When Ashton was interviewed in December 2020, she admitted causing death by careless driving and failing to stop. Mr Dudley, prosecuting, argued the offence fell "not far short of dangerous driving".

Lucy Ashton was jailed for 12 months. Credit: Liverpool Echo

Ashton's boss Helen Fagan said: "Lucy is very remorseful over what has happened and would never deliberately cause hurt to anybody. She is devastated as to the hurt that's been caused."The judge found it was "not a case of momentary inattention".He said: "If in any way you were affected by the low sun, it was your responsibility to driver slower, or even stop."Judge Aubrey added: "The inescapable conclusion is had you been paying even moderate attention you would have seen her."He said it was an aggravating feature Ashton left the scene and while she was panicking, she knew she had hit a cyclist.Judge Aubrey accepted she had "genuine remorse" and "powerful personal mitigation", but the only appropriate punishment was a prison sentence as he jailed her for 12 months.He also banned Ashton from driving for 18 months.

Jennifer's father Peter Dowd said "Jennie was the most caring of people." Credit: Liverpool Echo

Liverpool Crown Court heard moving statements from the victim's family, included tributes from her grieving widow, Samantha Brighton, and heartbroken parents.Jennifer's father and Bootle MP Peter Dowd said in a victim impact statement that the thought of never seeing his daughter again is "unbearable".

He said: "So many people would say Jennie lit up the room. She did. This is what we will all miss. Her laugh. Her smile. Her humour. Simply her."

Jennifer Dowd Credit: Liverpool Echo

"Jennie was caring, thoughtful, selfless, funny, vivacious, beautiful, enthusiastic, admired, lovely and loving. But even those words cannot sum up what we have lost, the Jennie we will never see or hear again or what Jennie was to us - to Sam, her wife, Karen, her mum, Jenny her nan and Chris, her brother and all her other family and friends."In conclusion, I want the person who was responsible for Jennie’s death, by her careless actions, to know the hurt she has had on our family, friends and the loss to our wider society. I want her to know the Jennie we have lost. The Jennie who we will never see again. The Jennie who has gone from our lives. The Jennie of whom we have memories, but, however lovely they are, they are not Jennie who we miss so much and whose captivating smile we will never see again.”