A speeding driver who caused a horror crash on a country road south of Carlisle which killed a schoolgirl and left her mum and sister seriously hurt has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Thirteen-year-old Ingrid Messenger died when the Citroen C4 in which she was a rear seat passenger was struck by a Land Rover Defender travelling at almost 80mph towards the city on the C1036 at the Crown Inn crossroads, Broadfield.
Ingrid’s mother, Catriona, was driving the Citroen along the intersecting C1017 and – after stopping at the junction – had almost completed her move across the C1036 when its rear nearside was hit by the much larger Land Rover and forced into a secondary collision with a van.
Mrs Messenger suffered multiple injuries – including a broken pelvis, ruptured diaphragm, compressed lung and spinal fractures.
She was treated in the intensive care unit and major trauma ward of Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, and underwent surgery.
She was unable to walk unaided for three months, was in a wheelchair for eight weeks and then used crutches.
Her eldest daughter and front seat passenger, Erikka, then aged 15, was detained in Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary for several days having sustained a shoulder blade fracture and bleeding on the brain.
Several eyewitnesses described seeing the Land Rover – driven by 47-year-old Tony Packenham – “absolutely flying” moments before the crash, at around 2.30pm on February 18, 2019.
One motorist earlier passed by Packenham described him as a “clown”.
Prosecutor Brendan Burke told Carlisle Crown Court today the tragedy would have been averted had Packenham not been driving “well over” the 60mph speed limit, and “in disregard” of three factors.
These were the wet road surface; several clear warning signs before the crossroads; and hazards created by two vehicles which had been in front of the Citroen and turned left before the crash.
“Even at 60mph,” said the prosecutor of Packenham, “the collision would not have occurred if he had reduced his speed at the junction warning signs.”
Mr Burke revealed video footage from Packenham’s vehicle captured the incident, saying: “After the collision the defendant removed the memory card from his dash-cam and threw it into undergrowth.” A diligent PC found this in bushes around 6ft away although the key download was swiftly obtained with a police memory card.
When approached at the scene, Packenham, of Station Hill, Wigton, raised his hands, saying “I caused it”, although he only confessed to hurling away the memory card, in panic, when confronted with the prospect of a strip search.
He later admitted causing death – and also causing serious injury to Erikka and her mum – by dangerous driving, and doing an act tending or intended to pervert the course of public justice.
In an impact statement, Mrs Messenger had spoken of the devastating and irreparable loss”, Mr Burke saying: “All who loved Ingrid will be forever changed and her heart is forever broken.”
Of the girl’s’ father, Timothy Messenger, Mr Burke added: “For him, it’s been a life-changing event and he entered a very dark period after that.”
Packenham had been “in a hurry” to get home that day.
A man of previous good character, he was said to be genuinely remorseful and “devastated two families”, said his barrister, with his parents being very elderly and unable to visit him in prison.
Jailing Packenham, Judge Nicholas Barker said: “Due to your grossly dangerous, excessive speed, you collided with the rear of the Citroen with catastrophic and tragic consequences.
“The impact of your actions that day on this family been desperate and tragic.
“I have read with heartfelt sympathy the victim impact statements of Catriona Messenger and Timothy Messenger, and I have in mind how the loss of their daughter has ruptured and ripped apart the normal rhythm of their lives.”
Judge Barker added: “The memory of Ingrid will be forever cherished but tainted by the way she was taken from them.”
Imposing a lengthy driving ban, Judge Barker noted Packenham had led a quiet, modest and blemish-free life until the tragedy, and told him: “Perhaps you are to be described in this way: that you are not a bad man, but you are a man who has done a bad thing.”