Nelson Curtis jailed for seven years for death of Lauren Danks in A11 crash

PUBLISHED: 19:36 27 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:44 28 June 2017

Lauren Danks

Lauren Danks

Archant

A 64-year-old man who pleaded guilty to death by dangerous driving has been jailed for seven years.

The heartbroken family of a beauty therapist killed by a 64-year-old drink driver who was travelling at 124 mph seconds before he collided with her car have spoken of their disappointment at his “incredibly low” seven year jail sentence.

Lauren Danks, 22, was driving home from her first-ever evening shift at Center Parcs at Elveden when a Jaguar driven by Nelson Curtis – who was “so drunk that he could hardly walk” when he left a pub earlier that evening – ploughed into the back of her car as he tried to overtake, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Curtis, who was nearly twice the drink drive limit, failed to stop at the scene of the late night collision on the A11 at Barton Mills and later lied to police about the amount he had to drink, the speed he was travelling, and the cause of the accident, said Michael Crimp, prosecuting.

Miss Danks’ worried father Robert had gone out looking for her when she failed to come home and came across the scene of the accident where he was given the terrible news by a police officer that his daughter had died.

The Jaguar driven by Nelson Curtis. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY The Jaguar driven by Nelson Curtis. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

In victim impact statements read to the court yesterday Mr Danks and his wife Claire described the devastating impact their daughter’s death had on them and her three younger brothers, and how hard it had been to comfort them when their own lives had been ripped apart.

They described daily visits to see their daughter in a hospital mortuary and at a Chapel of Rest before bringing her coffin home the night before her funeral so the family could spend one last night together.

Mrs Danks described her heartbreak at knowing she would never be able to go shopping with her daughter for a wedding dress and baby clothes while Mr Danks said he blamed himself for not being able to protect his daughter.

They also spoke of the agony of trying to celebrate the birthday of one of their sons shortly after the death of Lauren, from Soham, Cambridgeshire, while surrounded by bereavement cards and flowers.

Nelson Curtis, who has been jailed for seven years Nelson Curtis, who has been jailed for seven years

The couple were in court with one of their sons and other family members for yesterday’s hearing.

Afterwards, through a police spokesman, the family said they were “disillusioned and disappointed” with the justice system as a result of Curtis’ seven year sentence – which they described as “incredibly low”.

Curtis, an electrician, of High Street, Lakenheath, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving on November 10 last year, failing to report an accident and failing to stop after an accident.

Jailing him for seven years and banning him from driving for eight-and-a-half years – after which he will have to take an extended retest – Judge Rupert Overbury described him as a coward for fleeing the scene of the fatal crash without stopping.

The Jaguar driven by Nelson Curtis. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY The Jaguar driven by Nelson Curtis. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

He said Curtis had consumed ten pints of beer during a nine-hour drinking binge at a pub in Lakenheath and could “barely walk” when he left the pub at around 9.40pm.

Judge Overbury said Curtis’ level of intoxication and the speed he was travelling had resulted in him colliding with the back of Miss Danks’ car, propelling it off the road where it landed upside down in a ditch after hitting a road sign.

He told Curtis he would have to serve half his sentence in prison.

The court heard that Curtis’s Jaguar lost its nearside front wheel in the collision and he had driven off for two miles with sparks coming from the vehicle.

Bunches of flowers and balloons in memory of Lauren Danks. Bunches of flowers and balloons in memory of Lauren Danks.

Simon Morgan, for Curtis, said his client had expressed “shame, regret and remorse” for what he had done and pleaded guilty at an early stage of the proceedings.

He said Curtis realised he could not undo the damage he had done and he was so ashamed he had not allowed his family to come to court with him.

He said Curtis accepted his behaviour after the collision was “wholly unacceptable”.

Speaking after the hearing, Chief Inspector David Giles from Suffolk Constabulary, said: “This collision was reckless almost beyond belief. To drive a car at such excessive speed, having consumed a large amount of alcohol, shows a total and utter disregard for everybody else on the road. Failure to stop and report the collision compounded the distress of those affected.

“I would like to thank the officers who attended for their thorough investigation.

“Having suffered an unimaginable loss in such circumstances I would also like to express my condolences and thanks to Lauren Danks’ family who have been exceptionally supportive throughout.”

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