Speeding driver banned for girl's death

THE parents of a 14-year-old girl who was killed in a road accident have made an emotional plea for a change in the law after the driver who killed her was handed a one year ban and a fine.

Elliot Furniss

THE parents of a 14-year-old girl who was killed in a road accident have made an emotional plea for a change in the law after the driver who killed her was handed a one year ban and a fine.

Jordan Bell died on March 21 this year when she stepped out into Layer Road and was hit by a Volkswagen Golf GTI being driven by Mark Batten, 28.

Batten, of Pebmarsh Close, Colchester, was driving at around 40mph in a 30mph limit and the court heard that he sounded his horn and did “all he could” to avoid hitting the Alderman Blaxill School pupil.

Yesterday Colchester Magistrates' Court were told that a series of breath and blood tests carried out by police after the accident showed Batten was just within the drink drive limit.

An inquest held earlier this month heard that Jordan had been wearing an iPod portable music player when the accident occurred as she stepped into the road.

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Batten admitted driving without due care and attention and at excessive speed and was fined a total of £750 and was disqualified from driving for 12 months.

Jordan's devastated parents Stephen and Michelle, both 40, made a statement on the steps of the court where they pledged to do “all within their power” to see the law changed in order to prevent another family from enduring the pain they had suffered.

Colour Sergeant Bell, a member of 2 Para, based in Colchester, said he and his wife believed the charges Batten had faced were “far too lenient”.

He said: “As part of a wider campaign, our family and friends have gained over 2,000 signatures petitioning for the drink drive limit in the UK to be lowered and that harsher sentences are given to drivers like Mr Batten who choose to speed and kill innocent people.

“As Jordan's parents we feel strongly that the above must be implemented by the Government immediately and we will continue to campaign in her memory.

“We now wish to move into 2009 remembering Jordan, who was our only child, for the lovely, generous teenager she had become and not the tragic way in which she died.

“We plead with anyone who may be tempted this Christmas to drink or drug drive to remember Jordan's beautiful face, and please think again.”

Many of Jordan's tearful school friends joined her parents at the court to hear the sentencing.

District Judge David Cooper said it was an “absolutely tragic” case and acknowledged that the family would feel angry about the limited sentencing options he had available to him.

He said: “I can only do what the law allows me to do; I regret it, but there we are.”

He said to Batten: “Your counsel has said everything perfectly that he could say but it doesn't take away from the fact that by your carelessness you have killed a child and really ruined the lives of her parents.

“In a way it is an object lesson to everyone that if you do 40mph in a 30mph area and you hit a human you will kill that person. A human stands a chance of life if you hit them and you are within the limit.

“I have no doubt that the parents won't be able to forgive you - and why should they? But despite it all, I have got to operate within the law.”

The judge was told that Batten was of previous good character and he was very sorry for what had happened.

As well as the fine, Batten was ordered to pay £350 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

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