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31 July 2019, 12:33 | Updated: 31 July 2019, 12:39
A teenage driver from Rushden, who caused the death of his friend in a crash has been jailed for nine months.
Joe Plimmer, 19, admitted causing the death by careless driving of Meredita Kelmelyte (pictured), 17, in a collision which happened shortly after 9pm on April 18 last year.
At his sentencing at Northampton Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday 30th July), the court heard two other passengers were also seriously injured when Plimmer failed to negotiate a sweeping right hand bend on Orlingbury Road, Pytchley, in his Vauxhall Corsa.
At the time of the collision Mr Plimmer, who had only passed his driving test that January, had been following a sports car the group had admired as they visited a Kettering fast food restaurant.
The court heard a data recorder in Plimmer's car logged a final speed of 63mph before his car left the road and collided with a tree.
Meredita, who was one of two rear seat passengers and had not been wearing a seatbelt, suffered a serious head injury and went into cardiac arrest, dying at the scene.
The two other passengers, a teenage boy and teenage girl, suffered serious injuries including neck and facial fractures, broken limbs and internal injuries.
A subsequent scene examination by forensic collision investigator PC Jon Hoddle saw him conclude the maximum speed the bend could safely be negotiated at was 47mph.
Parts of Meredita’s mother’s victim impact statements were read to the court, in which she spoke of her pride in and love for her eldest daughter, describing her as empathetic, strong willed and a dedicated student.
The statement continued:
“I miss her dearly. I miss our late-night girly chats, our laughs together, our arguments, our never-ending shopping trips, our coffee breaks. She was my strength and my weakness.
I see her in everything that is beautiful – the sun, rain, clouds, wind. There are no words to describe how much I miss her.”
Sentencing, Judge Adrienne Lucking said:
“The sentence I pass today cannot heal the grief experienced by Mrs Kelmelyte and other members of her family, nor their heartbreak at a young life cut short in these terrible circumstances.”
“On that night your driving fell not far short of dangerous driving.”
Highlighting Plimmer’s lack of experience behind the wheel as increasing the likelihood of a collision, Judge Lucking also acknowledged he had since expressed genuine remorse, and had shown courage in meeting with Meredita’s family, after changing his plea to guilty on what would have been the first day of his trial last month.
Plimmer, of Keats Way, Rushden, was sentenced to nine months in a young offenders’ institution and upon his release will be subject to licence and supervision requirements for 12 months.
He was also disqualified from driving for two years, plus a further five months to account for the time he will spend in custody, and will have to take an extended retest in order to regain his licence.
Speaking after the hearing, investigating officer Detective Constable Rae Pegg, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said:
“This was a tragic incident which cost a talented, intelligent and much-loved young woman her life.
Meredita’s family will never get to celebrate all she would have gone on to achieve, and will spend the rest of their lives missing her.
Throughout this case they have shown nothing but dignity and courage, and although there can be no winners in circumstances like this I hope its conclusion brings them some small comfort.”