Bury St Edmunds: Court hears of father’s torment at Hannah Seeley’s death

Luke Anderson outside Bury St Edmunds Magistrates' court.

Luke Anderson outside Bury St Edmunds Magistrates' court. - Credit: Archant

A FATHER has told the man who admitted killing his daughter how she was laid to rest in a wedding dress she never had the chance to wear.

Hannah Seeley with niece Laila

Hannah Seeley with niece Laila - Credit: Seeley Family Pictures

The court heard that Luke Anderson, 22, who was believed to have been speeding when his car ploughed into midwife Hannah Seeley as she drove home to her fiancé, was known by friends as “Stig” – the name of the racing driver on BBC’s Top Gear.

Anderson, of Hopton Road, Barningham, previously pleaded guilty to causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving on April 22 last year.

Yesterday, after hearing the prosecution’s case, which included a heartbreaking and highly-charged statement from Miss Seeley’s father Kevin, West Suffolk magistrates decided they had insufficient powers to pass sentence.

Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ court was told how Anderson’s VW Golf had crossed the double white lines on a bend of the A143 at Pakenham and smashed into Miss Seeley’s Ford Fiesta as she returned home from a shift at West Suffolk Hospital.

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Ian Devine, prosecuting, said the impact had forced Miss Seeley’s car into a nearby field and caused the engine to detach from Anderson’s car.

The court was told that the dashboard rev counter and speedometer on the VW had frozen on impact at 81mph.

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Mr Devine said police investigators claimed that even allowing for a margin of error, Anderson had been travelling at a speed of 71mph.

A witness, who said Miss Seeley did not even have time to brake, said he thought Anderson had been driving between 60 and 70mph. The speed limit for the stretch of road, which was unlit, is 60mph.

Miss Seeley, of Sturgeon Way, Stanton, who was due to marry Mark Wade, 27, on September 15 2012, was pronounced dead at the scene.

When questioned by police, Mr Devine said Anderson had claimed he had “no recollection of the accident” and “could offer no explanation as to how his car was on the wrong side of the road”.

Mr Devine read a victim impact statement from Mr Seeley that spoke of the family’s heartbreak as well as addressing Anderson directly and accusing him of attempting to “hoodwink” the judicial system.

He said: “On Monday April 23 2012, Karen, Hannah’s mother, Kirsty, her sister, Mark, her fiancé and myself, visited Hannah in the chapel of rest. Her eyes were half open as if she was waking up. If only that was true, rather than closed for eternity.

“When I kissed her forehead she was so cold. Hannah didn’t like the cold, never has, never will.”

The statement explained how three days before her death Ms Seeley had travelled with her mother to Norwich on what would turn out to be her final fitting for a wedding dress.

He said on April 30 he watched as his wife waited outside the funeral directors with the dress draped over her arm, waiting to “dress Hannah for the final time.”

Then with words meant for Anderson, the statement added: “A wedding dress in a coffin Luke, a wedding dress in a coffin.”

The court was told that Mr Wade had placed a wedding ring on Ms Seeley’s finger before the coffin was closed.

Mr Seeley’s statement said he wanted to be able to tell his daughter why she died and urged Anderson – who he claimed was known as Stig by friends – to explain.

He added: “I would also like him to be asked on behalf of Hannah why he needed crutches for court appearances, but not to move furniture from his house.”

The statement said that Anderson’s “amnesia” and crutches had been a “cynical” attempt to “hoodwink” the judiciary and was “demeaning” to the death of his daughter.

Mr Seeley’s statement concluded by stating he doubted if his family would ever “properly feel happy again.”

David Stewart, mitigating, said his client felt “genuine remorse”, had no previous convictions and accepted responsibility for the incident at the first opportunity.

He added: “Whatever speed he was doing, he was going too fast for the prevailing road conditions.”

Mr Stewart said that Anderson’s injuries, which included broken bones, “were real” and had been assessed by doctors.

Anderson did not attend the hearing using crutches.

Chair of magistrates David Hooley said due to the aggravating factor of his speed, Anderson would be sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court at a date to be fixed.

Anderson was released on unconditional bail.

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