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Thursday, July 15, 1999 Published at 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK


Drink driver sues orphan

Rose's van collided with the Lucas family's Mini

A convicted drink-driver who orphaned an eight-year-old girl when his van collided with her parents' car is to sue her for compensation.

Martin Rose, 39, of Smeeth, Kent, has instructed solicitors to pursue a claim for loss of earnings against the insurers of Trudi Lucas, 34, who died with her husband Peter, 65, in the crash.

[ image: Martin Rose refused to give a breath test after the crash]
Martin Rose refused to give a breath test after the crash
The Lucas family's Mini collided with Mr Rose's van on the A20 near Ashford, Kent, in May 1998.

The couple's 10-year-old son, James, died two hours later, but their daughter Emma, now eight, survived serious injuries.

Rose, who has previous convictions for drink-driving offences, failed a breath test at the scene and later refused to provide a blood specimen.

Jailed for five months

In November he was jailed for five months for refusing to supply blood, but his sentence was reduced on appeal.

The BBC's Geeta Guru-Murthy: "The request for damages has disgusted Emma's family"
His solicitors have written to Mrs Lucas's executors, claiming she behaved negligently when she failed to stop at a junction and drove into the path of Mr Rose's van.

It says Mr Rose, a shopkeeper, should be compensated for severe bruising, concussion and cuts which cost him a week's wages worth about 250.

'Out for revenge'

Emma's uncle, David Bullen, 38, from Kennington, near Ashford, said: "This is the biggest insult. Not only has she lost her mum, her dad, and her brother, but now she has to put up with this. Where does it end?

[ image: Emma has battled back to almost full fitness]
Emma has battled back to almost full fitness
"I am sure he is out for revenge. Emma knows nothing about this. She believes he is still in prison.

"There were three witnesses to the accident and two of them told the police they saw the Mini stop at the junction and indicate."

The Campaign Against Drinking and Driving's spokesman Harry Cape said: "It seems cruel and unnecessary to put the family through another ordeal. It's an absolute disgrace.

"Society doesn't seem to care too much about the victims' rights - only the wrongdoers' rights.

"It makes a mockery of the system."

'Financial loss'

But Mr Rose's solicitor, Jo Holden, said: "Martin Rose has no wish to cause any distress and upset to the Lucas family.

"The letter that was sent was notification of a claim to an insurance company. The claim was in relation primarily to the loss of a vehicle belonging to my client that was written off in the accident.

"The Rose family run a family business and the loss of the vehicle is a considerable financial loss to the business."

Mr Holden said: "If the wording of the letter was considered insensitive it is because that is the way the pro forma was drafted."

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