A JUDGE jailed a speeding driver for two-and-a-half-years for causing a 23-year-old Leeds mum’s death after describing the incident as “a sad and tragic case.”
Daniel Coustol, 26, struck pedestrian Amy Lancashire as she and a friend attempted to cross Kirkstall Road near Leeds city centre just before 12pm on Wednesday September 10 2014, Leeds Crown Court heard.
Miss Lancashire, of Armley, suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead in hospital.
The tragedy happened two years after former Wortley High School student Miss Lancashire lost her baby daughter Zahra to sudden infant death syndrome aged just 25 days old in April 2012.
The court heard Coustol, of Leeds Road, Rawdon, had been undertaking traffic in his red Vauxhall Astra and driving at more than 50mph in a 30mph zone before the collision on the Leeds-bound dual carriageway section of Kirkstall Road after Kirkstall Forge.
Coustol admitted causing Miss Lancashire’s death by dangerous driving.
Prosecutor, Jonathan Sharp said Miss Lancashire and her friend had crossed the Kirkstall-bound carriageway using a pedestrian crossing.
Mr Sharp said they were attempting to cross the Leeds-bound carriageway near the end of the crossing’s zig-zag warning lines when the incident happened.
Mr Sharp said Coustol swerved and avoided Miss Lancashire’s friend, but Miss Lancashire tried to run back to the central reservation and the Astra collided with her.
Mitigating Nicola Gatto, said: “In many respects this incident can be described as a tragedy for all parties. Clearly the family of Amy Lancashire have suffered an indescribable loss, but also for the family of Mr Coustol himself.
“Prior to the incident he was a young man of 26 who was leading a perfectly law-abiding life.
“He was already quite a vulnerable young man. It seems he has grown up with very significant health problems. This resulted in him having a lot of time off from school. This, in part, has affected his overall level of maturity.”
Miss Gatto said Coustol has suffered from anxiety and depression, adding: “He is completely racked with guilt over what has happened. Before entering a plea he had attempted to take his life.
“He has written to the family of Amy expressing that remorse and in effect saying that he really wishes that it was him who had died on that day and not Amy.”
She added: “He was on his way to pick up his girlfriend. The pre-sentence report suggests he may have been speeding because it may have given him a thrill. He is unable to explain, but the most likely reason is familiarity with the road. It is a simple, straight road.
“What is clear, and what he acknowledges, is that he saw these two young women crossing when he was in the near side and he estimated if he moved over they would reach the pavement safely.
“He took a decision to move over to the offside lane. It seems she (Amy Lancashire) perhaps momentarily hesitated or she too perhaps though she was closer to the central reservation.
“It seems that as he made the split second decision to move over the offside lane, it seems that Miss Lancashire made a similar decision and the two collided. Had she continued on her way, nobody would be here today.”
“It cannot be said that he had driven for any distance in a reckless manner. He did everything that he could to take evasive action. It seems he swerved with considerable force to avoid this young woman, hitting the kerb and the car rolled over. This young man was distraught at the scene and went over to Miss Lancashire to see whether he could give any assistance.
“It is important that they (Amy Lancashire’s family) know that he is utterly devastated by his behaviour. He has wished no doubt every day since this incident that he could rewind the clock and not make this error of judgement. He is so terrible, terribly sorry.”
Judge Neil Clark jailed Coustol for two-and-a-half-years and banned him from driving for four years.
Judge Clark told Coustol: “This is a very sad and tragic case. On September 10, over a year ago now, Amy Lancashire, a 23-year-old woman, died in a road traffic accident. “It is clear if you read the statement of her mother that she was someone who was loved and cared for, not just by her mother, but also many people.
Their loss is enormous. Her life can never be returned to us.”
“Her death was caused by your dangerous driving. For about 50 yards or so you drove at excessive speed. The speed limit was 30mph. It is a dual carriageway and you can be seen on video undertaking cars and vans ahead of you.”
Judge Clark added: “It is clear from everything that I have read that you are remorseful. You have yourself suffered significantly from health problems from before the accident.”
Former Wortley High School student Amy Lancashire lost her baby daughter Zahra to sudden infant death syndrome aged just 25 days in April 2012.
Miss Lancashire’s family and friends held a fundraising family fun day in her and baby daughter Zahra’s memory in May at West Leeds Sports and Social Club in Armley in aid of the Lullaby Trust, which counselled and supported Miss Lancashire following Zahra’s death.
To donate, go to http://gogetfunding.com/amy-zahra-memorial-fund-in-support-of-lullaby-trust/.