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Teen Girl, 19, Jailed For Halloween Crash That Killed Her Friend

25/10/2012 12:14 | Updated 22 May 2015
Teen girl, 19, jailed for Halloween crash that killed her friendArchant

A teenage motorist has been jailed after she drove into a lorry, killing her friend and seriously injuring three others, following a Halloween night out.

Eleanor Coleman,19, wept in the dock. In a letter she said: "I'll never forgive myself."

Norwich Crown Court heard Coleman had driven friends in fancy dress from Acle to Norwich for a night out and was on the return leg the next morning.

Blood tests found Coleman, who suffered head injuries and a broken wrist, had taken MDMA and cannabis, but not at levels that could have contributed to the crash. There was also no alcohol in her system.

The teen, from Runham, Great Yarmouth, admitted causing death by careless driving after she drove into the back of a lorry in a layby off the A47 at North Burlingham early on 1 November 2011 following a night out in the city.

She was jailed for 15 months and banned from driving for three years.

Lorry driver Peter Jolly was first on the scene and his brave actions managed to save Coleman's life by dragging her out of the car moments before it exploded. He also flagged down drivers to help get the other three passengers safely from the car.

Teen girl, 19, jailed for Halloween crash that killed her friendEllie Tweed Archant

But Ellie Tweed, 18, who was a front seat passenger, was trapped inside the car and died at the scene.

The tragedy prompted Norfolk police to issue a warning for young people to take care when planning to go out and enjoy any Halloween festivities.

Chris Youell, prosecuting, said: "She had been up all night and for some reason went off the road and into the layby. She was not speeding: she was driving along at 40mph. There was no reason for the car to leave the road other than the inattention of the driver."

The back seat passengers had not been wearing seat belts. Passenger Amber Todd had a number of injuries including her neck broken in two places and a punctured lung; Amy Williams suffered a palsy which caused her eyelid to droop; and Emily Hall suffered multiple fractures, has nine metal plates in her face and has had to have operations to rebuild her eye socket.

Judge Peter Jacobs told her: "You were tired and not in the mindset to drive at all."

He added it was a tragedy for everyone concerned and said he wished that people would learn from cases like this.

"People would think twice before they did what this young lady did because there is no going back," he said.

He told Coleman: "You will regret this for the rest of your life."

The families of those involved were in tears sitting in court and Judge Jacobs told them: "Whatever sentence I pass will satisfy nobody."

However he said the courts had to mark the seriousness of an offence such as this.

Michael Clare, for Coleman, said she did not want him to make any excuses for her: "She's here to be punished and accepts that."

In a letter to the judge she said: "I hate myself for everything that has happened and will never forgive myself."

He said that she had a head injury in the crash and had no recollection of what happened.

"It's difficult to imagine that she would have fallen asleep. She was distracted in some way and the vehicle has left the road," he said.

After the case Inspector David Ball of Norfolk road policing unit said: "Eleanor Coleman has paid a very high price for driving carelessly.

"I would ask people to think about what happened last Halloween before they head out this year to enjoy festivities.

"If you are going on a night out plan your journey, book a taxi or check timetables. A designated driver must be exactly that: do not risk drinking or taking anything which could impair your ability to drive."

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