THE driver of a car whose “aggressive and competitive driving” resulted in the death of a 15-year-old Pickering schoolgirl has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years in youth custody.
Robert Turnbull, 19, from Wrelton, near Pickering, was driving his car at speed only three yards away from the rear bumper of another vehicle when he attempted to overtake on a blind bend on the A170 at Snainton in January.
York Crown Court was told yesterday that after becoming aware of an oncoming vehicle Turnbull, who admitted causing death by dangerous driving, had tried to swerve back onto the correct side of the road at a speed of between 70mph and 80mph and lost control.
His Vauxhall Corsa rolled one-and-a-half times before coming to rest on its roof, his girlfriend, front-seat passenger Natalia Wiley, dying instantly from head injuries.
Prior to the accident one witness described the speed of driving as being “like a bat out of hell”, another forming the opinion that the two drivers in the cars were “boy racers”.
The other driver, Daniel Jeminson, 21, of Pickering, was cleared last week by a jury at the York court of causing death by dangerous driving, denying that he had been involved in a race with Turnbull.
The jury was told on that occasion how immediately after the accident, Turnbull, who managed to climb out of the wreckage of his car, was running around like a headless chicken saying: “I’ve killed her, I’ve killed her.”
However, said David Brookes, prosecuting yesterday, after that, Turnbull claimed not to remember much about what had happened, only pleading guilty three weeks before his trial, along with that of Mr Jeminson’s, was due to start.
Mark Rhind, mitigating, acknowledged nothing he, nor Turnbull, could say would ever right the wrongs which had been done, bring Natalia back or ease the suffering of her family.
However, he added Turnbull was himself suffering and his life would be changed forever.
He said that the couple had been in love and that Turnbull was devastated by what had happened.
Mr Rhind said that his client had been prevented from approaching the Wiley family or attending Natalia’s funeral by the police and the conditions of his bail.
He said that the farm labourer would have to live with what he had done for the rest of his life, adding that his client was not the loud yob he had been made out to be but had difficulties in expressing his emotions because of learning difficulties.
Passing sentence, the Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, said he was satisfied Turnbull’s driving had been “aggressive and competitive”.
He added that Turbull, who had only passed his test in August last year, had been warned by the police about his dangerous driving on the A170 only a month later, and then convicted of speeding on the same road a few weeks after that.
The judge said he had heard that Turnbull had also ignored concerns and pleas about his driving from others, been witnessed skidding his car around a car park on ice, and driving too fast on other occasions.
He said that Turnbull belongs to “that selfish and dangerous” band of motorists prepared to risk their own lives and the lives of others.
As well as the custodial sentence, he was banned from driving for seven years and will have to take an extended driving test before being allowed back on the roads again.
In a statement, Natalia’s family said: “A gap has been left in all the lives of Natalia’s family and friends that can never be filled, no matter how much time passes.
“We have been reliably informed that had the speed limit been adhered to then this collision would probably never have appened. The fact is, speed kills. So if you want to do anything in the memory of a beautiful, happy caring young woman, please drive carefully and stick within the speed limits.
“Natalia, you will be missed so much by so many forever.”
“Love you princess.”