Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Texting crash motorist convicted

Philippa Curtis
Philippa Curtis will be sentenced in January (photo: INS News)

A motorist has been found guilty of killing another driver after using her mobile phone to send and receive more than 20 text messages.

Phillipa Curtis, 21, from Suffolk, crashed into a stationary car on the A40 near Wheatley, Oxfordshire.

Curtis wept as she was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.

After the unanimous verdict was read out at Oxford Crown Court, Curtis was told by the judge she would "almost certainly" receive a prison sentence.

During the trial Curtis, a waitress, had told the court she had been "hyper" as she set off on her two-hour journey to Oxford on 20 November last year.

She made various calls and sent text messages to a number of friends using predictive text on her flip-top phone.

Burst tyre

Shortly after making a call, her car hit Victoria McBryde's parked car at 70mph (113km/h), then spun into oncoming traffic, hitting two more vehicles.

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

For the sake of looking at a text message, that simple glance has taken my beautiful daughter away
Victoria McBryde's mother

Curtis, who injured her arm in the crash, had told Oxford Crown Court she had felt there were times when using a phone while driving was acceptable.

She told the court: "I didn't think I should be chatting away when manoeuvring roundabouts, but in the right conditions..."

Prosecutor Alan Blake replied: "In the right conditions on the A40 at 70mph?"

She added: "I probably would have slowed down."

Curtis wept while giving evidence and expressed regret for what had happened.

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

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

Ms McBryde was known as Tory by her friends and family.

'Horrid case'

Her mother said in a statement after the court case: "Although my heart has shattered since Tory's death, receiving this guilty verdict means my process of grief can now begin.

"For the sake of looking at a text message, that simple glance has taken my beautiful daughter away.

"I would like to take this opportunity to beg people to never answer their phone when driving."

After the guilty verdict was returned on Friday afternoon, Judge Julian Hall told Curtis: "In granting you bail, I don't give you any promise at all about what the sentence will be.

"It will almost certainly be a sentence in prison."

Judge Hall thanked the jury, saying it had been "a horrid case" to try.

Curtis will be sentenced in January.

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Fatal crash driver 'was texting'
18 Dec 08 |  England

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