Driver jailed over crash which caused death of his friend

Flowers left at the scene of the crash, at Castle Rising Picture: Chris Bishop

Flowers left at the scene of the crash, at Castle Rising Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

A baby boy will grow up never knowing his father who was killed in a crash months before he was born, a court has heard.

Craig Cooke, 27, died days after the Audi A4 being driven by his friend crashed into a tree on Lynn Road, Castle Rising, near King’s Lynn.

Norwich Crown Court heard how Mr Cooke’s fiancée Philipa Escott was six months pregnant with their son Henry at the time of the crash, which happened on September 17, 2018.

Mr Cooke died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge days after the crash.

Mr Cooke’s friend Andrew Carter, 30, of North Brink, Wisbech, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving when he appeared at court on Friday (May 1) and was jailed for eight months.

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A statement read out on behalf of Miss Escott described how the couple, who had been in a relationship for seven years, had just bought a property a few months earlier in which they had decorated the nursery in preparation for their the arrival of their unborn child.

After going to visit her partner in hospital she said she was told he was likely to only have hours left to live.

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She said: “Henry will never get to know his father, he will never get to know his dad.”

She said it had “robbed me of my partner, the man who I planned to spend my life with, and robbed my son of his father”.

She said she just felt “anger” and wanted to see Carter go to prison.

Danielle O’Donovan, prosecuting, said Carter had picked up Mr Cooke at about 7.30pm.

As Carter drove along Lynn Road, Miss O’Donovan said a neighbour described the sound of a car “travelling at high speed” before a “dull thud” and complete silence moments later.

The car was found to have left the road and hit a tree with the passenger door - where Mr Cooke sat - damaged from hitting the tree.

Miss O’Donovan said Carter told a nurse who had stopped to help that he was “driving too fast and saw a deer”.

The defendant told others at the scene that he had been “running too quick then a muntjac deer ran out”.

Carter was initially found to have traces of cannabis in his system when he was tested at the roadside but there were no drugs found when an evidential case was carried out later.

He told officers in hospital that he had been doing 60mph before approaching a corner and seeing a deer which he had tried to swerve around but lost control.

The court heard he was to tell a friend of the victim that he had been driving at about 120mph or 130mph earlier that evening.

When he was interviewed by police in December 2018 he said it was “my fault” and “I blame me”, adding if he had been driving at the speed his mother would have driven “things would’ve been very different”.

Miss O’Donovan also said that since the fatal crash Carter has been disqualified from driving for 12 months after he admitted drug driving following an incident when he was tailgating another motorist on the A47 in January 2019.

Jailing Carter for eight months Judge Stephen Holt said he would be “failing in my public duty if I didn’t impose an immediate custodial sentence”.

Judge Holt said the incident had caused “devastation” to the victim’s fiancée and to his young son Henry who “will never see his father, never see his face or hear his voice”.

He added: “There’s no doubt this incident and the death of the man she loved will live with her for the rest of her life and also Henry’s life.”

Carter was also disqualified from driving for 16 months.

Will Carter, mitigating, said he had shown remorse for the death of his “great friend” and “struggled” to come to terms with it, insisting he would have to live with that for the rest of his life.

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