A MOTORIST whose careless driving during icy weather caused a crash which fatally injured his girlfriend has been jailed.

Carlisle Crown Court heard a poignant statement from the heartbroken mother of 19-year-old Lana Maddison, who was fatally injured in the crash that was caused by her 21-year-old boyfriend Joseph Rowland on the A591 near Keswick.

Her mother Lisa said there were no words which could describe the impact of losing her daughter, who passed away in hospital in December 2021, a few days after the crash.

Studying mental health nursing at The University of Cumbria, Lana had a “bright and bubbly personality” with an infectious smile, and she had filled her family’s home with “fun, love and laughter,” said the statement.

The defendant was originally charged with causing Lana’s death by dangerous driving. But prosecutors accepted his plea to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.

Prosecutor Andrew Evans outlined the facts.

He said the tragedy happened on the evening of Sunday, November 28, 2021 after Rowland had picked up Lana from her home in Silloth and collected another friend from Torpenhow before setting off to see more friends in Keswick.

The group had enjoyed a Chinese meal and then set off towards home at 8.15pm, driving along the A591 out of Keswick.

Throughout the early evening, said Mr Evans, a winter storm named Arwen had set in, bringing snow, ice and flooding.

On a section of the A591 between the Crosthwaite roundabout and Dodd Wood, Rowland lost control of his Ford Fiesta as he tried to negotiate a right-hand bend.

His car left the road 'at speed' and collided with a tree.

Miss Maddison suffered an traumatic head injury which was not survivable. Her life-support was later withdrawn, and she passed away on December 3 at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.

The court heard from a series of professional drivers who were sent to the scene, including paramedics and police officers. All spoke of how dangerous the road conditions were, with temperatures as low as minus five.

Some remarked that it would have been unsafe to drive at over 30mph.

In his police interview, Rowland claimed that he had driven at 25mph just before the crash but the investigation confirmed that four seconds before the crash he was doing 55mph while at the point of impact his speed was 33mph.

The court then heard the detailed and poignant victim impact statement, in which Lana’s mother spoke of her “beautiful daughter”, and her dream of graduating with a degree in mental health nursing at The University of Cumbria.The Westmorland Gazette: Lana Maddison was bright and bubbly, say her heartbroken family

The statement added: “Since Lana’s tragic death, our lives have been completely shattered. There is no colour in our lives any more, just grey.”

She also described spending “precious” last moments with Lana in hospital before her life support was withdrawn and how their daughter’s organs were donated, something that they say Lana would have wanted.

“Our hearts are truly broken,” she added. “No amount of time will heal that pain… Every day so far has been a battle.”

Kim Whittlestone, defending, said the victim impact statement of Lana’s mother clearly showed the damage caused by the defendant’s offending.

“This was an offence caused by inexperience rather than irresponsibility,” said the barrister. “There was no alcohol, no drugs, no mobile phone use… This is not a case where we are dealing with a boy racer type incident.

“It was due to inexperience.”

The barrister handed the court character references, which showed Rowland, who was 19 at the time of the accident, had completed an engineering apprenticeship and was keen to work and took responsibility for others.

Judge Nicholas Barker told the defendant: “On November 28, 2021, during a storm and appalling weather conditions, you lost control of your car.

“It was on the A591…The reason you lost control was because you were travelling too fast for the weather and road conditions. In the moments before impact, your speed was assessed as being 55mph.

“The consequences of your decision were, and remain, entirely tragic. Lana, your then girlfriend and rear seat passenger, suffered a catastrophic brain injury. She was pronounced dead on December 3, some days later.”

Lana had been a loving, caring young woman and daughter, who made her family’s life complete, said the judge. Her mother’s victim impact statement highlighted the “indescribable grief and emptiness” caused by her death.

Judge Barker accepted that Rowland’s remorse was genuine and that he was capable of rehabilitation.

Jailing the defendant for ten months, Judge Barker said it should have been obvious to Rowland that he needed to drive that evening with “extreme” caution. That the defendant failed to wear his seat belt was an indication of his “blithe disregard” of the risks.

His front seat passenger had asked him to slow down shortly before the crash.

The judge told the defendant: “Driving brings with it huge responsibility for drivers – their passengers, to other road users and these courts sadly hear cases where young and promising lives are lost because drivers did not drive with the required and necessary responsibility.

“It’s the extreme nature of the consequences – a young and beautiful life lost lost unnecessarily – which drives me to the conclusion that only a custodial sentence which is served is the appropriate sentence in this case.”

In addition, Rowland was given a three-year ban, extended by five months to reflect the time he will spend in custody and he must pass an extended retest before he can drive independently again.

The defendant was weeping as he was led away to begin his sentence. 

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