Woman driving at 104mph in 40 zone jailed for seriously injuring mother and toddler

A woman has been jailed for four years and four months for seriously injuring a woman and a toddler through her dangerous driving.

Victim Charlotte 'Lotte' Whittle before the incident
Victim Charlotte 'Lotte' Whittle before the incident

Leanne Webb's Audi SQ5 struck a Kia Venga containing Charlotte Whittle and her 20-month-old daughter Harper in Oldbury on May 8, 2019.

Webb had been hitting speeds of around 104mph on Wolverhampton Road, a 40mph zone, and "accelerated" toward the road's junction with Queensway, a court was told.

The judge heard that Miss Whittle, who was driving the Kia, was travelling in the opposite direction at a "reasonable speed" on approach to the right turn into the Queensway.

Ian Windridge, prosecuting, said Webb's Audi collided with the front near-side of the Kia at 1.48pm which propelled both vehicles 60 metres down the north-western carriageway.

The Audi left the carriageway onto the grassy area and struck a lamppost, whilst the Kia was propelled further down the road, with Webb and Miss Whittle later taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital and 20-month-old Harper taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Mr Windridge told Wolverhampton Crown Court that Ms Whittle had sustained "severe head injuries" along with spinal fractures and other injuries, which she was treated for with surgical and non-surgical procedures before being transferred to Moseley Hall Hospital for further treatment.

Harper, Charlotte's daughter, had suffered a series of fractures as well as bruising to her face. Charlotte, now aged 31, was later admitted to a residential care home but made slow progress and has since been admitted to a "hospital setting" due to her not being able to cope, a judge heard.

A victim impact statement by Charlotte's father Richard Whittle, read out by Mr Windridge, said his daughter Lottewas a "very experienced estate agent, very popular and very attractive girl".

Charlotte 'Lotte' Whittle receives treatment in hospital.

Mr Windridge, reading the statement, said: "She [Charlotte] severely struggles with her speech and will never lead a normal life again – he says that she understands everything and is aware of what's happened and gets upset because of her inability to speak properly and tell everyone how she's feeling."

Anna Bradley, a close friend of Ms Whittle's, said in a statement that her friend had "changed" and she is no longer able to understand time, money, and unable to spot hazardous situations for Harper – or even read a book to her daughter.

Webb, then aged 34 and now aged 36, was taken to hospital with a police officer and remarked after the incident: "It's her own f***ing fault for pulling out in front of me", Mr Windridge said.

The defendant later completed an insurance claim in which she wrote the Kia "pulled out in my lane, leaving me no time to react" and admitted being over the 40mph speed limit on the road in a police interview, but didn't accept she had gone at around 104mph which the police had calculated, a judge heard.

When she appeared for pre-trial hearing on August 13 last year, Webb, from Wychall Lane, Kings Norton in Birmingham, said in her defence statement she had been under a "duress of circumstances", the court was told.

The defendant claimed this had caused her to accelerate and initially submitted that she was fearful of a Porsche driver – before her story later changed to her being fearful of men in a black car instead who were targeting her to retrieve "loot" stolen by her ex-partner.

Harper Whittle was less than two years old when she suffered fractures and bruising in the incident

But this had been rejected by jurors, who were shown there was no CCTV evidence of a black car following her and that she was behind and was "tailgating" the Porsche, during a two-day trial in May this year at a temporary court, at the Park Hall Hotel. The jury found her guilty of both charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving to Miss Whittle and her daughter Harper, the court heard.

Mr Desmond Lennon, defending Webb, said the speeding was of an "exceptional nature" and was not something "she had done regularly" and, in the event of a custodial sentence, her two children – aged nine and seven – would be sent to Manchester to live with her brother.

Mr Lennon said the defendant, who had a "horrendous" upbringing, is now showing remorse for her behaviour and is not "heartless, callous or cold" and has been experiencing nightmares regularly since the incident.

Judge Barry Berlin, summing up, said Webb had "cynically contrived" the stories behind her acceleration and instead he believed the defendant was trying to race the Porsche down the road – and said he rejected, as the jury did, her "crocodile tears" as she pretended to show remorse for the victims early on in the case but accepted she felt some remorse now.

Leanne Webb, 36, of Wychall Lane, Kings Norton, Birmingham, was sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Friday to four years and four months in jail for each offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, which will run concurrently.

The defendant was disqualified from driving for six years and 10 months and she must pay a victim surcharge and take an extended driving test in future.

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