Audi A4 driver killed Easington grandmother after racing at speeds of up to 111mph
A teenager driver had been racing at speeds of up to 111mph before he crashed and killed a 75-year-old grandmother.
Kieran Clement, who was 19 at the time, caused the crash which killed Margaret Murray and injured her husband Dave Murray as they were driving to the Hartlepool seaside for a day out.
Teesside Crown Court heard how Clement, now 21, had been racing his friend Keaton Cox on the roads earlier in the day on 30 March 2021, though not immediately prior to the crash.
Clement's red Audi A4 convertible collided with the Murrays' Nissan on the A689 near to Greatham, outside Hartlepool, at around 12.45pm.
The couple, from Easington, were on their way to the beach to celebrate Mrs Murray's birthday - two days late due to Covid restrictions.
Witnesses told police Clement's Audi and Cox's Golf were "absolutely flying" and that "they were driving like idiots" towards a roundabout.
Clement, of Winterburn Place, Newton Aycliffe, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. He was also banned from driving for three years and three months.
Cox, of The Barracks, Bolckow Street in Eston, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and received a 14-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.
He was ordered to attend 20 rehabilitation days with the probation service and he must carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. He was banned from driving for two years.
The public gallery in court was full of Mrs Murray's family.
In a statement read out on behalf of the couple's son Leslie Murray, he said his dad, who was taken to hospital for his injuries following the crash, "doesn't really want to go on living".
The statement said: "Dad feels like his life has been ruined. Mum and dad should have grown old together, looking after each other.
"She was renowned for baking - her scones and pies were something else. She enjoyed the Tuesday night quiz in the pub.
"She loved walking and cycling on holiday with my dad. She loved Strictly Come Dancing and the George Clarke programmes. But nothing mattered more to her than her family.
"Our mum was a fit and healthy lady, who had many many years ahead of her. We had plans that when Covid restrictions relaxed, we would all get together and celebrate birthdays.
"Needless to say we didn’t get a chance to do this. It is heartbreaking.
"The matriarch and backbone of our family has been taken away from us."
Mrs Murray suffered injuries consistent with "a severe degree of blunt force trauma".
Teesside Crown Court heard how her death would have likely been extremely rapid as she had suffered fractures of the spinal cord.
The court heard Mr Murray had pulled out to overtake a slow lorry. Police crash reconstruction experts said he may have seen the Audi behind him, but could not have anticipated the speed it was travelling at.
Following the crash, a number of other cars also collided with the Audi and Nissan.
Ian Mullarkey, mitigating for Clement, said the defendent had plans to train as a welder and had six points on his license for speeding. He had never been convicted of a crime, however.
Mr Mullarkey said Clement is remorseful for what he did and has since suffered from depression and "contemplated suicide".
Cox also expressed his remorse, telling his barrister that he "wishes he could take it all back".
Judge Howard Crowson told the two men how their actions meant Mrs Murray's family "have found it very hard to come to terms with her death".
He told the two men: "On March 30, 2021, you were both driving too quickly on the A689. During that day, you had been encouraging each other to race.
"At the time of the accident, you were no longer racing. But many other road users noted your driving and described your high speed. You were driving up to 111mph with a six second gap between the two of you.
"You were closing on the car that contained David and Margaret Murray. You could not stop to avoid the collision.
"Mr Clement, it was your dangerous driving that caused the death of that fit and healthy grandmother, Margaret Murray. Her family have found it very hard to come to terms with her death.
"Mr Cox, your driving was equally as bad, but you pulled back and were able to stop. Your driving did not cause Mrs Murray’s death. You have true remorse and realisation that you bear some responsibility for bad driving that day and a certain moral responsibility, that isn’t criminal, for what happened.”
Both men must pass an extended driving test before they are allowed back on the roads.
A third man, Syed Hassan - who the other two men did not know - pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.
Hassan, 26, of Blackhills Road, Peterlee, will be sentenced on January 13, 2023.
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