Double drink driver who killed Jennifer, 32, jailed six years and eight months

Jennifer Baker died following a collision in Barham on Friday, October 23 Picture: SUPPLIED BY SUFFO

Jennifer Baker died following a collision in Barham on Friday, October 23 Picture: SUPPLIED BY SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

A “selfish and arrogant” drink-driver who caused a head-on collision in which a 32-year-old Claydon woman died has been jailed for six years and eight months.

Robert Lowe had spent the afternoon before the fatal crash drinking in pubs and had consumed more than six pints of lager, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

A blood test showed that Lowe, who has a 2015 conviction for drink driving, was twice the limit for drink-driving at the time of the collision in which Jennifer Baker died, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Sentencing 44-year-old Lowe, Judge Emma Peters said he had been driving entirely on the wrong side of the road when his Seat Altea hit Miss Baker’s VW Polo at around 6pm on October 23, 2020.

“This was no glancing blow. This was head-on and it was more than momentary inattention,” said the judge.

She said Lowe had spent four hours drinking in the Greyhound pub in Claydon and the Sorrel Horse at Barham before the crash and had probably been over the limit when he left the Greyhound , where he had consumed three-and-a-half pints of Stella Artois lager.

He had drunk a further two or three pints of lager at the Sorrel Horse and a can of Jack Daniels and Cola which he’d bought earlier that afternoon from a shop.

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Judge Peters described Miss Baker, who had been returning from a dog walk with her partner, as a “wonderful young woman” and told Lowe that her family would never forgive him.

“I don’t blame them for that,” she added.

The court heard that Miss Baker died at the scene of the accident in Norwich Road, Barham and her boyfriend, who’d been in the front passenger seat, had suffered serious injuries including a traumatic brain injury which had left him suffering from seizures.

Lowe had also been seriously injured.

David Ryan, prosecuting, said Lowe had been driving from the direction of Claydon towards Needham Market while Miss Baker and her boyfriend were heading towards Claydon

He said Lowe had spent four hours drinking in pubs between 2pm and 6pm and had been “visibly uncomfortable” during a police interview when he was shown CCTV of him drinking in pubs before the collision.

Lowe, of Peregrine Close, Clacton-on-Sea, admitted causing Ms Baker’s death by careless driving while he was twice the drink-drive limit.

In addition to being jailed, he was banned from driving for six years and 10 months.

In a statement, Miss Baker’s mother Maria described the devastating impact her daughter’s death had on their family and said Lowe had shown a disgraceful “arrogant disregard” for her daughter’s life.

She described the anguish she felt at her daughter’s death and not being able to protect her as “unbearable” and said her hopes and dreams for her daughter had been shattered by Lowe’s “selfish” actions.

Jennifer’s father Andrew,  described his daughter as “ loving, affectionate, quick-witted and very special” and said he hoped Lowe would never forget the “terrible and unforgivable” thing he’d done.

Jennifer’s twin sister Catherine described the “excruciating” pain she felt at the loss of her sister and the pain of visiting her in the Chapel of Rest, bringing her ashes home and packing up her life in boxes.

Miss Baker’s partner Rhys Holbrow said her death had changed his life forever and described the devastating effect the injuries he had suffered had had on his career and life in general.

David McGowan, of Woodward Markwell in Ipswich, where Miss Baker worked as part of the management team, said her colleagues had been left devastated and heartbroken by her death and the company had set up an annual award in her honour.

Nicholas Bleaney, for Lowe, said that because of his injuries he had no memory of what happened.

He read out a letter from Lowe in which he said he was “truly sorry" for what he’d done and said he wished he could change places with Miss Baker.