Killer drink-driver jailed

A DRINK-DRIVER who caused the death of a mother-of-two had downed bitter, vodka and whiskey at a pub before getting into his car. Graham Turk was yesterday jailed for more than four years for causing the death of 61-year-old Jennifer Tillett,of Holmbrook Way, Frinton.

A DRINK-DRIVER who caused the death of a mother-of-two had downed bitter, vodka and whiskey at a pub before getting into his car.

Graham Turk was yesterday jailed for more than four years for causing the death of 61-year-old Jennifer Tillett,of Holmbrook Way, Frinton.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard how Turk, 57, of Golden Lane, Thorpe Le Soken, had been drinking in the Bell Inn, which is less than 300 yards from his home.

Turk phoned to get a lift home but was surprised when he was joined at the pub by his 17-year-old daughter, who drove there using her provisional license on November 3 last year.


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Prosecuting, Robert Neill, said the pair left the pub in Turk's Rover 214 at about 10.55pm and witnesses reported “some unusual driving” and relatively fast acceleration.

As he drove the short distance home he lost control of the car on a right hand bend in High Street, colliding with Mrs Tillett's Ford Ka heading in the opposite direction.

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Mr Neill said: “It is quite clear, say the Crown, from the accident reconstruction, that this defendant was going too fast to take that that bend.”

Reconstruction of the accident showed the former NHS hospital driver and clerk was doing about 71mph in a 30mph speed limit.

The head-on impact caused Mrs Tillett's car backwards through a hedge and into a fence of a nearby house.

Mrs Tillett, a grandmother of four, was treated at the scene by paramedics before being rushed to Colchester General Hospital with multiple injuries but died in the early hours of the next day.

A blood sample from Turk, taken about three hours later, gave a reading of 112 milligrams in 100 millilitres of blood - more than one-and-a-half times the legal limit.

Stephen Rose, mitigating for Turk, said the father-of-two was of previous good character and held a driving license for more than 30 years.

He said Turk, whose wife died from a heart attack in front of him in 2002, had gone to the pub for a meal and during the evening drank bitter, two vodka and tonics and an Irish coffee.

He said he did not walk home because of a neck problem and instead phoned, hoping to get a lift from his daughter's boyfriend.

But Turk was taken “wholly taken by surprise”, when his daughter turned up at the pub.

Mr Rose said Turk believed it was safer to drive his daughter home rather than her get behind the wheel again.

“He thought he was sufficiently sober to drive that distance home, on a road he had driven so many years without difficulty - upon such a decision a terrible tragedy occurs,” Mr Rose said.

He said Turk believed he saw something in the road before unintentionally pressing the accelerator instead of the brake.

Turk, who pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at an earlier hearing, also pleaded guilty yesterday to driving whilst over the legal limit.

Judge Christopher Ball, QC, sentenced Turk to four years and three months and disqualified him from driving for four years.

And on the second charge he also banned Turk from driving for four years, to run concurrently.

Afterwards, Pc Steve Brewer, senior investigating officer in the case said: “This was an horrific crash and happened because of the irresponsible actions of Graham Turk.

“He drove his car while under the influence of alcohol, far in excess of the speed limit, with his young daughter in the passenger seat, who was seriously injured.

“No sentence imposed in these circumstances will truly reflect the sad death of Jennifer, who was returning home from visiting relatives.

“I hope that this serves as a strong reminder to those who think drink driving is acceptable, that it is not.

“All too often those who choose to drink drive end up crashing, injuring or killing others - in this case an innocent woman died and her family have been left trying to come to terms with their needless loss.”

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