Tragic teens' dads speak of anguish

FATHERS of three teenagers killed in a road crash today of their relief after the man accused of causing their deaths changed his plea to guilty.As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star, Wattisham army corporal Ben Morphey, 22, of High Street, Yoxford, is facing jail after admitting five charges of causing death by careless driving while unfit due to drink.

FATHERS of three teenagers killed in a road crash today of their relief after the man accused of causing their deaths changed his plea to guilty.

As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star, Wattisham army corporal Ben Morphey, 22, of High Street, Yoxford, is facing jail after admitting five charges of causing death by careless driving while unfit due to drink.

Lowestoft teenagers Claire Stoddart, 18, her sister Jenny, 15, and their friend Carla Took, 18, died after the two-car crash on the A12 at Blythburgh, near Southwold, on July 1 last year.

They had been at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in Ipswich shortly before the tragedy, which also claimed the lives of Simon Bonner and Kim Abbott in the car driven by Morphey.

Ipswich Crown Court heard how Morphey had drunk a “considerable amount” of alcohol during the night of the crash and ploughed head-on into the car being driven back to Lowestoft by Claire Stoddart.

Judge John Holt warned Morphey a prison sentence was inevitable.

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After the hearing, Carla's father David Took, 46, said: “My initial reaction is that this has taken too long for him to change his plea from not guilty to guilty. This should have happened before Christmas.

“I am glad that this has now come to an end so we can get some closure and start to go forward. The girls were very close friends and we are devastated at what has happened.

“I have got no sympathy for him (Morphey) and he deserves everything he gets.”

Phil Stoddart, 44, the father of Claire and Jenny, said: “In terms of a custodial sentence, we've got mixed feelings. On the one hand we don't see the benefits of him going to jail, because he didn't set out to kill our daughters. But on the other hand, if you don't pass a hard sentence for drinking and driving, you encourage other people to do it. Justice has got to be shown to be done.”

The teenagers' friends Sarah Mitchell and Adam Cox were injured in the crash. Morphey was treated for leg injuries.

Morphey was granted continuation of his bail until the sentencing hearing at the end of this month.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said he could not answer any questions regarding Morphey's future career in the army. “Much will depend on the sentence,” he added.

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