Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 17:21 UK

Quad bike death father sentenced

Gary Cooke was banned from riding quad bikes

A father who admitted manslaughter over the death of his daughter, aged seven, after a quad bike crash has been given a nine-month suspended prison sentence.

Gary Cooke, 46, from Blackmore, Essex, was also banned from riding quad bikes on public roads for two years.

Elizabeth died on Boxing Day last year when the quad bike she was driving hit a Range Rover near the family home.

At Chelmsford Crown Court Judge Christopher Ball QC said Cooke's jail term would be suspended for two years.

On the night of the accident Elizabeth and her brother, Jack, 10, were riding the quad bikes behind a Range Rover driven by their father.

Elizabeth's machine hit another Range Rover travelling in the opposite direction - she was thrown on to its bonnet and left unconscious on the side of the road.

Clearly this is a tragic accident which has absolutely devastated the Cooke family and one for which Mr Cooke holds himself responsible
Annette Henry
She died shortly after arriving at hospital in nearby Chelmsford.

Prosecutor Stephen Harvey QC said Elizabeth and her 10-year-old brother Jack had ridden quad bikes on the family farm before.

Elizabeth had ridden a 50cc bike with a 12mph speed limit but both youngsters were given identical 100cc quad bikes - capable of a top speed of 36mph - for Christmas.

Mr Harvey said neither Range Rover was travelling quickly, but Elizabeth had not been able to control her quad bike.

"This tragic incident was a direct result of the defendant's gross negligence," said Mr Harvey.

Annette Henry, for Cooke, said her client always held himself responsible for his daughter's death.

"Clearly this is a tragic accident which has absolutely devastated the Cooke family and one for which Mr Cooke holds himself responsible," she said.

"He clearly will never forgive himself for what has happened. He is already living a life sentence."




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