'If I could swap places with James and Ruby, I would': Woman is jailed for two years in drink-drive crash that killed fiance, daughter
The court was told how the car crashed into a metal railing, a telegraph pole and then finally crashed into a stone wall on Kilbourne Road, Belper, Derby
A young mother of two, who killed her fiance and 6-year-old daughter when she crashed after speeding under the influence has said that she is "forever crying" about the night of the incident. At the time, she was reported to be twice the drink-drive limit.
Carly Tomlinson, a 24-year-old police support worker, was sentenced to two years behind bars for losing control of her Fiat Panda on April 30, 2017, after drinking two pints of lager and three vodkas.
The court was told how the car crashed into a metal railing, a telegraph pole and then, finally crashed into a stone wall on Kilbourne Road, Belper, Derby. 28-year-old James Watson, her fiance, whom she was supposed to get married in the following month, was killed in the terrifying crash, along with their 6-year-old daughter, Ruby Watson.
The child had died, at the scene, due to severe head injuries because she was not strapped into her booster seat.
A devastated Tomlinson told Mirror Online: "I am deeply saddened by what happened that night and if I could swap places with James and Ruby, I would. I am forever crying thinking about the traumatic night. I can’t explain how remorseful I am about that night." Tomlinson suffered from severe injuries herself in the horror crash that included 12 broken ribs, a lacerated spleen, a fractured pelvis, and fractures to both of her knees. She also spent a month in the hospital in a coma.
On June 22 at the Derby Crown Court, she pleaded guilty to a charge of causing death by driving without due care and attention while unfit through drink.
On August 8, the young woman was awarded a prison sentence for two years by the Nottingham Crown Court, and she had effectively been disqualified from driving for the next four years.
The court heard how the couple and their daughter had gone to Marehay Miners' Welfare Club in Ripley, Derbyshire, from 8 p.m. till about 1 a.m. the night of the crash. As they were driving back to their home, which was just two miles away, Tomlinson went over a curb and onto the pavement at a speed of 43 mph which was "well in excess of the 30 mph limit." The mother, then, lost control of the vehicle which sped along the pavement for 34 meters (111 feet) and rotated in a clockwise direction to the other side of the road for 31 meters (101 feet) more before crashing into the railing, the pole, and the wall.
Watson died instantly from many internal injuries, and the child died from severe head wounds. Both father and daughter were declared dead on the scene. One passerby got off a bus, which had to stop due to the crash, and helped get Tomlinson out of the car. Blood test results that came four hours later showed how she had a little over the drink-drive limit in alcohol. Tomlinson had 84mg of alcohol in 100ml of her blood which is a little over the 80mg limit. Experts came to a conclusion that Tomlinson would have been "just below twice the legal limit" when her crash took place.
While sentencing, Judge Gregory Dickinson said: "This case is both serious and tragic. The victims where your partner of nine years, James, and your daughter Ruby aged six. It had been a happy, normal, uneventful evening until you came to drive the short distance to Belper. No one here knows why you drove. You should not have been driving. You must have known you had had too much to drink. You had the last drink just before you left. As you entered the residential area of Belper, just after a fairly moderate right-hand bend, you mounted the curb and then crossed onto the wrong side of the carriageway, collided with the metal railing and telegraph post before going head-on into a stone wall."
He continued: "There was no evidence of prolonged poor driving you simply failed to slow down when you entered the 30mph residential street in Belper. The fact two people died is an aggravating feature. You killed your own child and your fiancé. People you love, and who love you, will be haunted by this for the rest of their lives. You could have killed anyone. This will be with you for the rest of your life. You caused terrible loss, but you will suffer that yourself. There is no right sentence, nobody can put a value on a life. This is such a serious case that only a custodial sentence can be justified. It would be wrong to suspend the sentence."
51-year-old Janine Hitchcock from Belper, Watson's mother, said in a victim impact statement that was addressed to Tomlinson: 'I am sorry I am not in court, but that is because I am so angry at what she has done to my family. We are not on her side like people think. She needs to pay for all the heartbreak she has done. I am not supportive, I think she should pay for her actions. James had a choice to get in that car, but Ruby was not able to make that choice. She was killed by the actions of her mother. It makes me very angry that she made the decision to drink-drive. My family has been completely torn apart, and I feel awful like I can't breathe. I feel so strongly that she should be punished.'
The defending lawyer, Raglan Ashton, said: "May 24, 2018, was supposed to be the happiest day of Carly Tomlinson's life because that was the day she was due to get married to James. He was her best friend, her soul mate and the father to her two children. The events of April 29 and 30 of 2017 were catastrophic, and she has to understand she was the cause of that. One of the points she is wrestling with internally is what caused her to drive on that occasion, and sadly she does not know the answers. She's at a loss to explain why and how she came to be involved in this terrible collision. She can't answer, she does not know. She understands the level of resentment towards her, and she understands the impact her actions have caused. In her own words in the probation report, she says it is always on her mind. She says ''I will never forgive myself and not a day goes by when I don't think of James and Ruby''. She said given the chance she would put herself in their place."
Watson's uncle 58-year-old Mark Robinson from Beeston, Nottinghamshire, said: "I think it's fair what they have done, but I know my sister won't think that. I don't know what I'm going to face when I get home. I know she is going to go ballistic. She is so upset. But Carly has gone to prison, Janine has got some justice. It might not be what she really wants, but we can't bring them back - we know that."