'Fatigued' driver killed boyfriend in crash after falling asleep at wheel
London - A sleep-deprived young woman whose boyfriend died when her car smashed head-on into a lorry has been jailed for two years.
Hannah Bowman, 21, had been warned not to drive home when she got into her car with Jordan Wilson, 20, at about 5am on May 30 last year – just hours after an evening out drinking.
The victim’s sister had told them it was ‘stupid and dangerous’ to try to drive after ‘minimal’ sleep following their night out in Whitehaven, Cumbria, but she was ignored, a court heard.
A motorist driving behind Bowman about an hour later said her Suzuki Swift was travelling ‘too slowly’ before it started to straddle the centre white lines of a country road. The car then swerved across the road, mounted a grass verge and swung back, narrowly missing an oncoming HGV, before it veered to the wrong side again and collided head-on with a flatbed lorry.
Mr Wilson, a keen musician who had been due to start a degree at London’s Institute of Contemporary Music and Performance, suffered catastrophic injuries in the crash on the A66, between Keswick and Penrith in Cumbria. He died two days later at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
Bowman, who initially appeared uninjured but later developed serious back and neck problems linked to the crash, gave a ‘nil’ alcohol breath test when police arrived. She admitted causing death by dangerous driving at a previous hearing.
Mr Wilson’s mother Lynne said, in a victim impact statement read out to the court: "My family and I have to live with the consequences of her actions for the rest of our lives."
The couple had spent the previous evening drinking in pubs around Whitehaven.
Francis McEntee, prosecuting, told Carlisle Crown Court that Bowman had had "minimal" sleep but still wanted to head back home to the village of Nenthead, Cumbria, at around 5am, despite the warning from Mr Wilson’s sister that it was "stupid and dangerous".
Mr McEntee told the court: "The conclusion is she was suffering the effects of fatigue. This was the major cause of the collision".
"Ultimately the cause for the sad loss of Mr Wilson’s life was the decision of this defendant, against the clear advice given that she should not have set out having had no rest and, albeit clearly not over the limit, one would anticipate jaded by the effects of the night before."
Bowman’s Suzuki Swift was completely destroyed in the crash.
Judge James Adkin told her: "You must have fallen asleep at the wheel.
"You say that you had rested a little that night, but it is clear you had not had anything like sufficient sleep to undertake the journey you did.
"You were in no fit state to drive, but you stupidly and selfishly persisted onwards with tragic consequences.
"The very articulate and deeply moving victim personal statements that I have read in this case show the shocking emotional impact on those that loved Jordan, of his life being prematurely curtailed.
"His family, with whom he was very close, are unlikely ever to recover fully from their loss."
Bowman wept as she was sentenced to 27 months in prison by Judge Adkin and called out ‘I love you’ to her father, who was sitting in the public gallery.
David Wales, for the defence, said: "She [Bowman] has asked me to express to the court and to Jordan’s family her deep sense of sorrow; her deep sense of regret. She has asked me to apologise for her actions, her transgression on that day."