Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Monday, 2 February 2009

Texting death crash woman jailed

Philippa Curtis
Curtis told the court it could be acceptable to drive and use a phone

A motorist who sent and received more than 20 text messages before she crashed into another car killing its driver has been jailed for 21 months.

Philippa Curtis, 21, from Suffolk, was texting before she hit the back of a stationary car at 70mph on the A40 near Wheatley in Oxfordshire.

Victoria McBryde from Northamptonshire, who was dealing with a burst tyre, was killed in the crash in November 2007.

Curtis, of Bury St Edmunds, was also given a three-year driving ban.

Judge Julian Hall said it had been "folly and madness" to use a phone while driving and it had been "disastrous" for Curtis, Ms McBryde and her family.

'Various calls'

Curtis, who was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving in December, had told Oxford Crown Court she felt there were times when using a phone while driving was acceptable.

During the trial the defendant, a waitress, said she had been "hyper" as she set off on her two-hour journey on 20 November, 2007.

She had made various calls and sent text messages to a number of friends using predictive text.

Shortly after making a call, her car hit Ms McBryde's parked Peugeot 106, then spun into oncoming traffic, hitting two more vehicles.

I can't really describe in words how bad I actually feel
Philippa Curtis, defendant

Ms McBryde, 24, from Horton, who had stopped to deal with a burst tyre, suffered a fatal brain injury in the crash.

Curtis, who suffered an arm injury, spun into oncoming traffic, hit two more vehicles, a white van and an Asda lorry, the court heard.

She admitted sending text messages while driving, but denied using her mobile phone at the time of the collision.

"I can't really describe in words how bad I actually feel," Curtis told the court.

"I just feel awful that I was involved and I can't really imagine how the family must feel."

Judge Hall said he hoped the case would send out a warning to other drivers not to use their phones when behind the wheel.

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