Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 18:28 UK

Fatal drink-driver was on phone

Sarah Taylor
Sarah Taylor told witnesses she had been on her phone

A driver who killed a woman while over the alcohol limit and using her mobile phone has been jailed for six years.

Sarah Taylor, 23, was driving at 95mph on the M61 in Lancashire when she hit 35-year-old Melanie Lee's BMW Mini head-on, Preston Crown Court heard.

Miss Lee, from Manchester, who had been getting out of her broken-down car, was sent flying and witnesses said the impact sounded like a bomb.

Taylor, also from Manchester, admitted causing death by dangerous driving.

The victim had been returning from visiting her parents in Glasgow when her car spun out of control on the motorway near Brindle on 30 September 2007.

She was trying to climb out of the window when Taylor's Fiat Stilo crashed into the BMW.

As a consequence of this grotesque piece of driving, you snuffed out the life of this woman
Judge Norman Wright

Two passing motorists who had stopped to help Miss Lee and were forced to leap out of the way to avoid being hit by the speeding car, the court heard.

Witnesses to the crash said the impact was so severe that it "sounded like a bomb had gone off", the court heard.

Miss Lee, a pensions manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers, died from multiple internal injuries.

The first thing Taylor, of Munn Road, Blackley, said after the collision was: "I was on my phone, I was on my phone."

The medical receptionist, who had been working in her second job as a dancer in Blackpool, had been drinking and was more than twice the legal limit.

She immediately admitted her guilt and Ian McMeekin, defending, said Taylor had experienced a great level of "shame, distress and remorse".

'Terrible consequences'

Judge Norman Wright told her: "As a consequence of this grotesque piece of driving, you snuffed out the life of this woman.

"It was more by good luck that two other people were not killed or seriously injured."

The judge said the message must go out to the public that cars could be "lethal weapons" and that people should never use hand-held mobile phones when driving.

He said he was satisfied Taylor was genuinely remorseful for her actions, rather than sorry for the predicament she had got into.

Taylor was banned from driving for five years and also sentenced to a four-month concurrent jail term for driving with excess alcohol.

Speaking after the hearing Sergeant Ian Milnes, of Lancashire Police's Motorway Unit, said the case had been a difficult for Miss Lee's family.

"I think this incident highlights the stupidity of drink-driving, using your phone whilst at the wheel and speeding, all of which played a huge part in this collision," he added.

"The terrible consequences of this crash should serve as a strong warning to people not to do this."

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