Man who 'won marriage lottery' says speeding driver who killed wife 'ripped out' his heart

Lorraine Barrow was killed while she was cycling on a road near Blackford in September last year. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

"You have not broken my heart, you have ripped it out."

Those were the words of a man whose wife was killed by a speeding motorist while out cycling in Somerset.

Lorraine Barrow was cycling along the B3139 near Blackford on 17 September last year when motorist Victoria Hamer crashed into her. The 57-year-old died at the scene.

Hamer - who was found to have been travelling at 44mph in the 30mph zone - admitted causing death by dangerous driving and has now been handed a suspended sentence at Taunton Crown Court.

The 26-year-old, of Sandpiper Close in Bridgwater, said she did not see Ms Barrow because the sun was "too low".

At a hearing on October 21, she was handed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, a six-month curfew, 200 hours community service and a 30-month driving disqualification.

In a victim personal statement read out to the court, Lorraine's husband said: "We were a couple who grew closer and closer together, very rarely doing anything apart.

"I really did win the marriage lottery.”

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."The couple's daughter, Abi Thierens, said she continues to have nightmares about what happened.

She said: “(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.

Judge Cook described it as "the most saddening of cases" where "the harm could not have been greater".

He said: “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.”

Speaking of the sentencing, Chris Barrow said no sentence would ever compensate for his wife's death.

"It certainly does not bring closure as my sentence is life without Lorraine. Closure, for me, will be when my ashes join Lorraine’s," he said.

He said the justice system "let down" his wife and family, adding: “Victoria Hamer will serve her sentence and most likely go on to live a normal life which, in all probability, will extend beyond Lorraine’s 57 years."

He said: “From our kitchen window I can view the exact stretch of road that the car travelled on its way to killing Lorraine. I can watch as the police, using their speed guns, attempt to catch drivers exceeding the limit thereby breaking the law.

“Why does society in general think that speeding is a low-level crime? It is not. The affect it has on generations of families, in our case four generations, is devastating, shattering and crushing."

He added: "Drivers have a duty of care. Our attitude to speed and how we control it is, quite frankly, ridiculous.

"Lorraine was doing everything right. Her road positioning was correct, her signal was clear, she was wearing light blue jeans, cycling jacket with reflective piping, high-visibility vest, and a helmet with rear facing light clearly visible against the green and brown hedge row.

“I am proud, as was Lorraine, that we live in a just society however the scales of justice, in our opinion, have become unbalanced."