A HOTEL manager caused the death of a teenage member of staff after he lost control of his high performance car and ploughed into a field as he gave her a lift home.
A court heard moving statements from Jemma Coyle’s devastated parents in which they described how her family were struggling to come to terms with losing the 19-year-old.
Richard Hepworth, 31, was given a suspended prison sentence at Leeds Crown Court today after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving.
Jemma died at the scene of the collision after being struck by a fence post after Hepworth lost control of his Jaguar XJR around 750m from where they worked at the King’s Croft hotel, Pontefract.
Hepworth suffered horrific life-changing injuries after he was also struck by a fence post and impaled inside the vehicle.
The court heard it is still unclear how the tragedy happened as there were no witnesses to the crash and Hepworth is still unable to remember what happened due to the brain injuries he suffered..
Simon Waley, prosecuting, said the incident happened shortly before midnight on April 24, 2014, after they had both finished their shifts as Hepworth gave Jemma a lift to her boyfriend’s home.
He lost control of the vehicle on the A645 Pontefract Road and veered across the carriageway before hitting the fence and entering a field.
Emergency services were called by a driver who came across the collision scene.
Mr Waley told the court that the Crown suspected something had made Hepworth leave the road and suspected him of speeding - but said there was no proof.
Mr Waley read out a victim personal statement on behalf of Jemma’s mum Nicola.
She said: “I have been robbed of a daughter, a best friend.
“All those shopping trips, her graduation, that moment in the bridal shop where I see her in a wedding dress, seeing her dad walk her down the aisle and grandchildren.
She added: “A mother commonly helps a daughter to pick out clothes, no mother expects to pick out clothes in which to cremate her.”
Jemma’s father Stephen said the family “had started their own life sentence” following the death of his daughter.
Jemma, who was working as a senior supervisor at the hotel, was was a second year business student at Huddersfield University at the time of the incident.
Simon Bickler, mitigating, said Hepworth, who also worked as a chauffeur in his spare time, may never be able to work again because of the physical and mental injuries he suffered.
Mr Bickler said: “The victim impact statements which have just been read to the court were the most beautiful expressions of love and loss this court has perhaps ever heard.”
Speaking about Hepworth’s injuries, he said: “In terms of his cognitive function - he is not the same person or is going to be the same person again.
“He does not remember anything from the event and was in and out of consciousness for two weeks following the accident and stayed in hospital two months after that.”
Judge Christopher Batty said: “Had you been driving at the speed limit and at the standard of a careful and competent driver you would not have lost control of your vehicle.
“Gemma would not have died and you would have not been seriously injured.”
Hepworth was given a 20 week sentence, suspended for a year.
He was also banned from driving for 30 months.