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Mother banned after fatal accident

PUBLISHED: 20:00 19 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:07 03 March 2010

A MOTHER whose careless driving was blamed for the deaths of four people has been banned from driving for 10 years.

The penalty - one of the toughest ever given in county - included a £2,000 fine on 34-year-old Elizabeth McKee.

A MOTHER whose careless driving was blamed for the deaths of four people has been banned from driving for 10 years.

The penalty – one of the toughest ever given in county – included a £2,000 fine on 34-year-old Elizabeth McKee.

McKee, wearing jeans and a tee-shirt and walking with a crutch, looked unmoved in the dock listening to how her careless driving killed both her passengers Shaun Fuller, 29,  and Michael Watson, 29, in October 2000.

Hours after hearing of her son's death Carol Fuller, 50, collapsed and later died of a heart attack.

And 18 months on Robin Rose, 60, the driver of the parked lorry into which McKee drove the Suzuki Vitari jeep – haunted by the carnage he had witnessed – committed suicide.

McKee, from Newthorpe in Thetford, pleaded guilty to four counts of driving without due care and attention, driving without a licence, insurance and in a car with no MOT.

But despite the sentence, the family of Shaun Fuller – McKee's front-seat passenger – say she has not been punished enough.

Shula Fuller, 23, from Thetford, said: "My father went to bed on October 12 with seven children and a wife.

"A day later he had six children and no wife. My mother was a greatly loved grandmother of 16 children.

"Shaun had his whole life in front of him. This case has dragged on for 20 months and ripped this family apart."

Speaking of the non-custodial sentence, she said: "This is criminal justice. It is justice for the criminal, not the victims."

All three sisters have pledged to join a campaign that allows blood tests for alcohol and drugs to be taken from accident victims.

She said: "The court only heard half of what happened. We are going to write to our MP.

"It is absolutely wrong that doctors are able to override the decision to take a blood sample. The lorry driver was blood tested so why not the driver?"

It took police 13 hours to clear the mangled wreckage from the eastbound carriageway of the A14 close to the Morton Hall roundabout on October 13, 2000.

McKee's jeep spun into the central reservation after clipping Mr Rose's Leyland Daf lorry.

A Royal Mail van travelling in the same direction then became involved in the pile up. Both Shaun Fuller and Michael Watson died instantly.

Prosecuting, Alan Wheetman said: "The car was travelling at between 55 and 60 mph when it veered inexplicably to the left and into the back of the lorry. 

"Just before the point of impact there must have been something distracting the driver or other intervention to cause a lapse in concentration.

"In such cases such as this it is not only the peoples concerned in the accident that suffer tragic consequences, this can often extend to the families.

"The mother of one of the deceased, Carol collapsed and died as a result of being informed of her son's tragic death.

"The driver of the lorry, to whom no blame whatsoever can be attached and was in fact taking his required rest break in his cab, subsequently took his own life."

Speaking in mitigation for McKee, Justin Rainford said: "It seems to be, in the scheme of things a minor lapse, albeit with tragic consequences.

"Many people have suffered incontrovertibly one of whom being Miss McKee who was not expected to live after the accident."

Miss McKee, the mother of an 11-year-old son, currently receives £180 a week disability allowance.

After the hearing Pat Fuller, who lost his son and wife in 24 hours said: "Only half of what happened came out in court.

"My wife was only 50 when she died, we had planned a retirement together all those dreams have gone. She died of a broken heart." 

Emergency services took 45 minutes to cut McKee from the wreckage of her four-wheel drive jeep.

According to eye witnesses the scene was so appalling one police officer passed out at the scene.

Magistrate Graeme Garden said: "We feel these offences should attract a high level of fine having regard for the serious and tragic consequences of the accident."

After the hearing Mr Rose's, sister, Ann Arnold, from Debenham, said: "My brother blamed himself for the accident. He never got over what he saw that day. The accident was so horrific and he received no counselling for what he saw."

Both families praised the dogged persistence of Sergeant Colin Teager and Constable Steve Hodgson in bringing the case to court.

Pat Fuller said: "They have been wonderful. I'm sure without Colin the case would have been dropped. We are very grateful to him."

Speaking after the case Sergeant Teager said: "I am pleased for all the family involved that the first stage of this accident has been dealt with. It has been a long time in coming."

A date can now be set for Mr Fuller's inquest. 

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