'Text message' driver gets prison term

THIS young couple are today living proof that using a mobile phone while driving can ruin lives.

THIS young couple are today living proof that using a mobile phone while driving can ruin lives.

Kim Murray was left with horrific arm injuries which required pioneering surgery after her “boy racer” fiancée crashed his car as he read text messages.

Her arm, wedged between the roof and the road, was dragged for 70 yards after partner Stuart Rivers flipped his Fiat Cinquecento on the A14 near to the Orwell Bridge.

Miss Murray's injuries were so severe that a team of plastic surgeons from the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital had to graft bone from her pelvis, and tendons from her wrists and ankles, to rebuild her fingers and thumb.

Despite her fiancée's actions, the pair have remained together since the accident and now plan to wed.

Today, as Miss Murray continues her rehabilitation, Rivers, of Blyford Way, Felixstowe, is beginning a 12-month jail term after pleading guilty to a charge of dangerous driving.

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Ipswich Crown Court heard how Miss Murray and two other females were passengers in Rivers' car as they travelled from Felixstowe towards Bury St Edmunds on June 10 last year.

As the party approached the Orwell Bridge, Rivers, 20, received a text message and he took his attention off the road.

The car swerved across the carriageway, striking the central reservation and then hitting another car, before flipping on to its roof.

Miss Murray, 16 at the time, of Langley Road, Felixstowe, was in the front seat and put her hand through the open sun roof to protect herself. But it became stuck between roof and road and remained there as the car skidded to a halt.

The court heard that Rivers had been described by the two rear-seat passengers, who sustained minor injuries in the accident, as a boy racer and an individual who did not care for his safety.

The driver and passenger in the Ford Focus which Rivers' struck also received minor injuries and their car was written off.

Charles Myatt, prosecuting, said Rivers asked the passengers not to tell police he was using a mobile phone at the time of the accident.

Mr Myatt said Rivers told officers the Ford Focus had struck his vehicle, a claim which was later disproved following an examination of skid marks on the road.

Neil McCaulay, mitigating, said his client had been “reactive and not proactive” in that Rivers had received a message and had not sought to send one.

He said tests found Rivers, who past his driving test six months before the crash, and had already accrued three points for speeding, had been driving at between 61mph and 75mph.

Judge John Devaux told Rivers: “There were five victims who suffered injuries. There will be long term consequences for some.”

Along with the prison term, Rivers was also handed a two-year driving ban.

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FELIXSTOWE teenager Kim Murray is still suffering the effects of last summer's crash.

Ipswich Crown Court heard how she has faced hours of surgery and will face many more in the future as a result of fiancée Stuart Rivers' dangerous driving.

She had to be rescued by firefighters and later underwent two operations and eight hours of surgery to attach the tendons and bone, spending a total of 15 days in hospital.

She is now undergoing physiotherapy as part of her rehabilitation.

Speaking a few weeks after the crash, Miss Murray said: “I can't really remember the accident.

“With all the morphine and stuff I had been given, I couldn't really think about any of it afterwards.

“It was only after the first operation that I could begin to get my head around it.”

Her father, Stuart, 37, praised the hospital staff who helped his daughter and supported the family through their traumatic experience.

Plastic surgeon Elaine Sassoon, of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, described Miss Murray's injuries as “horrific”.

Miss Murray, who sat in the public gallery during Rivers' sentencing, sobbed as the sentence was read out.

Inspector Trevor Sharman from Suffolk police's Roads Policing Unit said: “This case shows the inherent danger of using a mobile phone while driving and the consequences which can follow.

“It also shows the seriousness which the court applies to this type of offence.”