Suspended sentence for Soham motorist who caused death of 22-year-old passenger

Ashlee Paige-Bennett, known as Libby, was killed in a road accident near Godmanchester.

Ashlee Paige-Bennett, known as Libby, was killed in a road accident near Godmanchester. - Credit: Archant

A SOHAM woman who admitted causing a crash which killed her friend was told by a judge her carelessness had resulted in “unimaginable pain” for the victim’s family.

Camilla Potts, 19, was driving when her car was involved in the fatal collision on the A1198 near Godmanchester last June in which one of her passengers, 22-year-old Ashlee Paige-Bennett, died.

Potts, of Brook Street, Soham, admitted causing death by careless driving and was sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court on Friday (April 19).

Prosecuting, Ms Cheryl Williams said Potts was 18 at the time and had been driving for 10 months.

She picked up friends Emily Johnson, who was 17, and Miss Paige-Bennett, also from Soham, and planned to drive to Haverhill but got lost, ending up southbound on the A1198.

It was shortly before 9pm when her Ford Ka collided with a VW Golf, driven by Jonathan Carter-Sewell, who was 19.

Potts told police she had attempted to do a U-turn using a lay-by but had pulled out into the path of the Golf without stopping.

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A police investigation revealed Mr Carter-Sewell was doing 64mph and had had 1.18 seconds to avoid the collision.

Ms Williams continued: “She (Potts) failed to drive at a sufficient standard in this case because she failed to see the VW Golf behind her.”

Miss Paige-Bennett, who had not been wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the car, suffering fatal injuries. Potts was also seriously injured. They were said to have shared a spliff on the A14 but tests revealed Potts had no cannabis in her system.

In a letter, Miss Paige-Bennettt’s mother, Jo Paige Davies, described her daughter as a “most loving and beautiful girl” and said of losing her: “The depth of pain is unimaginable”. She also said it had been “very hurtful” to see the accused putting pictures of herself smiling on Facebook and claimed there had been no evidence of remorse.

Defending, Mark Shelley said: “Remorse is there and it’s genuine. She has had a very difficult time of it.

“She might have put on a front from time to time to show she was coping. She has been genuinely upset.”

Sentencing, Judge Nic Madge told Potts: “Your carelessness has had a devastating effect.

“The depth of pain caused is, as Ms Davies says, no doubt ‘unimaginable’.

“You must come to terms with the fact that your carelessness killed your friend and deprived her parents of a daughter and her brother and sisters of a sister.”

He also stressed the “crucial importance” of all pasengers wearing seat belts, adding: “This case demonstrates yet again how wearing seat belts save lives.”

Potts was banned from driving for two years and sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 18 months. She will also have to do 150 hours’ unpaid work, wear an electronic tag and remain at home from 8pm to 6am for two months and repeat her driving test.