Father’s anger as daughter’s killer’s sentence cut

A FATHER whose teenage daughter was mowed down and killed by a driver who had been drinking whilst on medication has spoken of his anger after judges cut the jail sentence by three years.

Neil Blackburn’s 17-year-old daughter, Charlotte, was killed by Ryan Ellmore who ignored his friends repeated warnings not to get behind the wheel after drinking large amounts of lager, whiskey and vodka.

Despite being told by doctors he “must not” drink alcohol, after being prescribed the powerful blood thinning drug, warfarin, Ellmore went out drinking - leaving his car at a friend’s house.

He told friends he was no longer taking the medication and drank with them in a pub, until he was thrown out for rowing with another customer.

He drove at double the 30mph speed limit before losing control and his car which mounted a pavement and killed Charlotte and injured her friend before then smashing into a house in High Street, Dovercourt on May 25 last year.


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Following the crash, Ellmore ran away from the scene, before returning and begging friends not to call the police. Tests after the tragedy showed that Ellmore was either narrowly below, or over, the drink drive limit at the time.

Ellmore, 21, of Devon Way, Harwich, was jailed for eight years at Chelmsford Crown Court in January this year after he admitted causing Charlotte’s death by dangerous driving.

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But, following a challenge by Ellmore’s lawyers, top judges at London’s Criminal Appeal Court ruled the original term was too long.

Sitting in the public gallery Mr Blackburn shook his head in disbelief as Mr Justice Maddison reduced the sentence to five years, of which Ellmore will serve half before qualifying for automatic release.

Speaking to the EADT after the appeal hearing, Mr Blackbun said Ellmore would be “rubbing his hands in delight” at the news.

He said: “I am really disappointed and I am angry as well. The prosecuting barrister said he was expecting perhaps a year to be cut but I am shocked by this.

“Eight years sounded a long time, but people forget that you only serve four and this is for taking someone’s life.

“Now, with this, he could walk out in 19 or 20 months time and get on with his life as though nothing has happened but we have a life sentence.

“We are really struggling – it never gets easier. You just have to learn how to deal with it.

“Charlotte is not on our minds on a daily basis – it’s every 10 minutes.”

Mr Blackburn said he did not believe Ellmore was truly sorry for what had happened.

“I would be surprised if he ever showed his face in this town again.

“One or 100 years - it would not bring Charlotte back, but this is hard to take. Our pain never goes away.”

The court was told Ellmore knew Charlotte, who lived in Fronks Road, Dovercourt, and chatted to her while she was standing at a bus stop waiting for a friend.

Her friend then arrived and the two of them walked along the street together.

Ellmore then returned to his friend’s house nearby and got behind the wheel of his car - ignoring warnings from his friends that he was in no fit state to drive.

He sped off at about twice the 30mph limit and, losing control on a slight bend, he mounted the pavement and hit Charlotte - who died almost instantly - before crashing into a house. Her friend was also slightly injured in the crash.

Following the crash, Ellmore ran away from the scene, before returning and begging friends not to call the police. Tests after the tragedy showed that Ellmore was either narrowly below, or over, the drink drive limit at the time.

Two months before causing Charlotte’s death, he had been arrested after he was found “laid out” in his car and failed to provide a breath sample - for which he was handed a six-month driving ban.

The court heard he also had no valid driving licence at the time of the crash, because he had failed to give the DVLA updated information about his medical condition.

Ellmore’s lawyers argued the eight-year jail term was excessive, saying although the case was “very bad”, it was “not the worst” example of death by dangerous driving.

Allowing the appeal, Mr Justice Maddison said: “This was undoubtedly a very serious case and the judge was faced with a difficult sentencing exercise.

“He was acutely aware, as are we, of the dreadful effect which this has inevitably had on all those close to Charlotte Blackburn.

“A significant custodial sentence was inevitable. However, in our view, the sentence passed in this case was too high.”

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