Death crash driver walks free from court with £100 fine

May 20, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A grieving father has condemned the justice system as ”ridiculous” after the driver who caused a crash which killed his 17-year-old daughter walked free from court with a £100 fine.

Stunning hairdresser Carly Bown was a rear seat passenger in Darren Sargent’s car when he lost control on a bend at nearly 60mph and ploughed into a tree.

It later emerged that the 20-year-old had been stopped by police just three hours earlier and given a warning about a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre.

But Sargent was charged with the minor offence of careless driving and her family campaigned for years to have it increased to death by dangerous driving, which can warrant a prison sentence of 14 years.

But the Crown Prosecution Service ruled there was ”insufficient evidence” and Sargent was fined just £100 at South Somerset Magistrates Court in Yeovil.

Carly’s father Paul Bown, 46, said he has now ”lost faith” in Britain’s judicial system.

He said: ”I was heartbroken and upset.  I did not know what to expect but I now have no faith in the justice system.

”To fine someone £100 for taking away my daughter is ridiculous.  We have all done things we have regretted in our lives but when someone dies it is serious and you should face up to it.”

Hairdresser Carly died just six months after her mother Kim Collins, 48, was killed by a brain haemorrhage.

She was a back seat passenger in Sargent’s Volkswagen Polo when he lost control at 2am on October 6 2007 as he negotiated a left hand bend.

Carly suffered multiple injuries when he collided with a tree and died later the same day in hospital despite the fact she had been wearing a lap belt.

Sargent and three other female passengers in the car escaped with only minor injuries.

In March this year an inquest into Carly’s death heard how she called out for her recently deceased mother Kim following the crash.

Carly’s father Paul and uncle Shaun Bown campaigned for the careless driving charge to be upgraded to death by dangerous driving.

But on the day Sargent appeared in court Paul received a letter informing him that no change would be made due to ”insufficient evidence”.

Tim Rutherford, prosecuting, revealed in court that Sargent was issued with a section 59 notice for a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre just three hours before the fatal crash.

It also emerged that he was travelling at 59mph, just 1mph below the speed limit, on a tight corner when he lost control, killing Carly.

Sargent, of Yeovil, Somerset, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and was fined £100 with a £15 victim surcharge and ordered to pay £35 costs.

His driving license was endorsed with seven points, bringing his total to 10, meaning he is still able to drive legally.

The maximum sentence for careless driving is a £2,500 fine and up to nine penalty points.

Chair of the bench Nicola Howe said they could not focus on Carly’s death when deciding what sentence to impose.

She said: ”You were a young and inexperienced driver who drove round a bend too fast but we are here to consider the manner and quality of the driving and not the consequences, however tragic.”

Engineer Paul, from Ash, Somerset, is struggling to come to terms with the deaths of both Carly and Kim.

He added: ”They were both everything to me and drove me forward in my life.  I always used to look round expecting one of them to walk through the door.

”I have not been able to share my grief for Carly and Kim.”

Carly’s friends and family have set up a Facebook page with 3,000 members in protest at the fine and began a ‘Justice for Carly’ petition which will be sent to Parliament.

Friend Paula Wright, 16, of Tintinhull, Somerset, who set up the Facebook page, said: ”There are a lot of people who are not happy with the fine and she deserves justice.

”There were a lot of us in court and I ran out crying.  It was hard as nobody seems to be listening.  If it was one of the magistrates’ daughters I think it would be different.

”This country has let us down.  I knew Carly since I was little.  She was bubbly and loud but was always there for you when you needed her.  She was a brilliant friend.”

Nurse Lisa Irvine, 39, added: ”I was absolutely shocked by the outcome.  It’s disgusting that they can put a price of £100 on Carly’s life.

”It is an insult to Carly, her family and friends.  We will keep campaigning and send it to Parliament to show how many people are angered by this.”

Walter Howroyd and Lynda Hudd, whose daughter Rebekka died aged 11 in 1996 after being hit by driver David Powell, have joined the campaign.

Powell, who was using his mobile phone at the time of the crash, was fined just £250 for careless driving.

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