C U in 3.5 yrs! JAIL for woman, 20, who killed pensioner while texting at the wheel – and STILL arrived at court clutching her precious phone
01:16 GMT, 14 December 2012
To the family of the grandmother she killed while texting at the wheel of her car, it could not have been more insensitive.
They had come to court hoping to see Nikita Ainley show some remorse – and not a little humility – at her sentencing over the death of Mary Rutherford.
Instead, they looked on as the 20-year-old arrived tapping away on her phone.
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Nikita Ainley leaves York Crown Court in handcuffs having been convicted. She was using her mobile while driving when she smashed head-on into pensioner Mary Rutherford
The 68-year-old grandmother of three was sitting in the back of a Fiat Panda when it was hit head-on by Ainley’s Renault Clio.
Ainley, who was 18 at the time, had already sent a message on her BlackBerry smartphone and was in the process of writing another about a night out when the fatal crash occurred.
She showed no emotion as she was sent to a young offenders’ institution for three and a half years but began sobbing as she was led away from the dock at York Crown Court yesterday.
Judge Stephen Ashurst told her: ‘No message is so urgent that it requires someone to lose their life as a result of it. That, I’m afraid, is what you did on this occasion. It was your thoughtless use of a BlackBerry phone that has brought about a completely unnecessary death.’
He added: ‘This case ought really to stand as a terrible warning as to the dangers of that kind of obviously unlawful activity.’
The court heard Ainley was driving to work at Asda in Bilton, near Hull, when she ploughed into the Fiat carrying Mrs Rutherford, who was travelling back from the supermarket with friends.
Pensioner Mary Rutherford, pictured with daughter Dawn Timmings (left), died after returning from the supermarket with friends
Tragically, Mrs Rutherford had fought breast cancer for five years and had been told that she was finally in remission just weeks earlier.
The judge said the result of the crash, in a country lane between Hull and Withernsea, where Mrs Rutherford lived, was a ‘scene of devastation’. Ainley initially denied she had been texting at the time of the crash, insisting she had pulled over to exchange the messages.
She then claimed that she felt the car skid on the wet road moments before the crash. But a painstaking inquiry by Humberside Police established that the last of two messages she sent was transmitted only 48 seconds before a witness to the crash dialled 999.
Police, who found the phone wedged down by the driver’s seat, believe that she may have been sending the last message at the moment her car hit the Fiat coming from the opposite direction.
Witnesses also claimed they saw Ainley’s car hit a grass verge on a sharp corner and ‘bounce’ on to the wrong side of the road before smashing into the other car.
The other occupants of the Fiat walked away from the crash in May last year with broken arms.
Simon Waley, prosecuting, said Mrs Rutherford was taken from the wreckage and put in an ambulance but died at the scene.
Ainley, who went to hospital for a check-up after the accident, maintained her story that she had lost control of the car after it skidded until last month, when she changed her plea and admitted texting a friend.
Ainley, from Roos, East Yorkshire, admitted causing death by dangerous driving. She was banned from the road for five years and ordered to take an extended driving test if she wants to drive again.
Outside court, one of Mrs Rutherford’s two daughters, Dawn Timmings, said she had a simple message for drivers: ‘Just put the phone somewhere where you don’t need to hear it or see it. It’s not complicated.
‘My mum did not need to die that day. My mum was a constant in my life. I’ll never, ever be able to see her again. I’ll never have that cuddle. I’ll never have those silly conversations. I’ll never be able to hold her hand.’
Inspector Mark Hughes, from Humberside Police, said: ‘An awful lot of people use mobile phones while driving and this is the worst possible scenario.’
VIDEO: 'I find the lack of remorse soul-destroying'. Daughter's heartbreaking statement
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