Judge says statement by Kingswinford crash victim's mum was "most moving" he'd ever read

Stourbridge News: Thomas Whitehouse Thomas Whitehouse

A JUDGE described a statement given by the mother of a Kingswinford road crash victim as “the most moving and powerful” he had ever read, when allowing driver Thomas Whitehouse to keep his freedom.

Whitehouse, aged 22, who lost control of his car on the A449 at Cookley causing a smash which killed his girlfriend Sam Jennings, was spared jail when he appeared at Worcester Crown Court on Friday (November 29) for sentencing.

Judge Patrick Thomas QC said the death of Miss Jennings was the result of tragic events and, despite his guilty plea to causing death by careless driving, a suspended prison sentence was appropriate.

Sentencing him to four months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, the judge paid tribute to Miss Jennings’ mother saying her statement was the “the most moving, controlled and powerful statement of its kind I have ever read".

The statement, describing the impact of the loss of the 26-year-old mum-of-two on the family – especially Samantha’s sons now aged nine and ten, read: “My world just fell apart, when the boys woke up they knew something was wrong – we told them mummy had gone to see granddad in Heaven.

“It breaks my heart to know the boys will never see their mum again – I feel like a part of me died with her.”

Miss Jennings was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, when a car driven by Whitehouse, carrying the couple plus Whitehouse’s best friend, hit a wall and a tree at around 1.20am on December 8 2012 near the Island Pool pub.

The court was told Miss Jennings had been in a relationship with Whitehouse since the summer of 2012 and she had told her mother he treated her “better than any man she had ever known".

Gurdeep Garcha, for Whitehouse, revealed Miss Jennings’ mother said she would be disappointed if Whitehouse, of Burns Close, Stourbridge, was jailed – and the court heard Whitehouse was a man of previous good character who suffered serious injuries in the crash resulting in the loss of his left leg.

He had not been drinking on the night of the crash and although traces of cannabis were found in his blood, and a quantity of cannabis was found in his car, the judge ruled the drug could have been in his system for a long time and could not be considered a factor in the cause of the smash.

The judge said: “The overwhelming likelihood is the cause is probably a slight excess of speed or short, but momentary, inattention.

“A significant aggravating feature is the three people in the car were not wearing seatbelts.”

The judge also said there was powerful personal mitigation in Whitehouse’s favour and he had pleaded guilty at the first possible occasion and shown genuine remorse.

Mr Garcha said his client publicly “wishes to express sincere and heartfelt apologies to the family for what he has done.”

Whitehouse was also banned from driving for 18 months.

After the hearing, Miss Jennings' family said in a statement: "We would like to thank everybody involved in the case, including West Mercia Police - in particular family liaison officer PC Laura Williams, and the Crown Prosecution Service.

"We also want to express our thanks to everybody who assisted at the scene of the collision, including members of the public who carried out first aid and all the emergency services who attended."

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