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Last Updated: Friday, 20 July 2007, 19:20 GMT 20:20 UK
Text death driver gets four years
Rachel Begg
Rachel Begg admitted driving dangerously
A teenage driver who caused the death of a woman in a crash as she sent a mobile phone text message has been sent to a young offenders' institute.

Rachel Begg, 19, of Whinbank in Ponteland, admitted sending the message shortly before the collision on the A696, near Newcastle Airport.

Maureen Waites, 64, from Wellfield Road North in Wingate died in the crash.

Begg had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving and received a four-year sentence.

She was also disqualified from driving for five years.

'Lives devastated'

Newcastle Crown Court heard that she had used her phone nine times during a 15-minute journey last November.

Her VW Golf collided with a Citroen driven by Mrs Waites who was on the way to pick up a relative from the airport.

Sgt Ian Dey, a motor patrol officer with Newcastle Area Command, said: "This crash has devastated the lives of two families and will have a major impact on them for the rest of their lives.

The justice system needs to get tough on drivers who take needless risks with terrible consequences
Jools Townsend, from Brake

"One family has lost a much loved wife, mother and grandmother. The other has to face the consequences of a young woman spending four years in a young offenders' institute.

"Using your mobile while driving is inexcusable and those who do so are simply not appreciating the consequences of their actions.

He added that motorists should be aware that police carry out inquiries to see if a mobile was in use prior to a serious or fatal crash.

Sentence criticised

A ban on using handheld mobile phones while driving came into force in December 2003.

The length of the sentence was criticised by the road safety charity Brake.

Jools Townsend, head of education at Brake, said: "Rachel Begg will probably be free in just two years.

"If deaths like Maureen's are going to be stopped, the justice system needs to get tough on drivers who take needless risks with terrible consequences."

Maureen Waites's family after the sentencing

Teenager bailed over crash death
04 Apr 07 |  England

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