Thoughtless and reckless: Family of fatal crash victim Maureen Keenan condemn speeding drivers (From St Helens Star)
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Thoughtless and reckless: Family of fatal crash victim Maureen Keenan condemn speeding drivers Jack Chapman and Peter Knowles
A DEVASTATED family has condemned the “thoughtless and reckless drivers” who have been jailed for their involvement in a crash that cruelly snatched a grandmother’s life.
Maureen Keenan, 77, died after her car was struck on a residential street in Rainhill by a Volvo being driven at around 50mph by Jack Chapman.
Close behind Chapman’s car was another vehicle being driven at speed by his friend Peter Knowles, which veered off the road and hit a lamppost and a wall.
At Liverpool Crown Court this week Chapman, 22, was jailed for three years for causing death by dangerous driving in April last year.
Knowles, also 22, will serve six months in prison for the lesser charge of dangerous driving.
Judge Graham Morrow told them: “There was an element of showing off to each other. Other young drivers must realise that a moving car is a potential lethal weapon.
“Sadly and tragically the way in which you were driving turned the potential into reality. You will have to live with what you did for the rest of your lives.”
But the strongest statement came from Maureen’s family who said it was “difficult to be satisfied that the sentences properly take into account of their devil may care attitude, which places innocent members of the public in mortal danger.”
Malcolm Tyrer, Mrs Keenan’s son-in-law and family spokesman, said: “My parents-in-law were simply going about their daily lives and found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Mum’s life was cruelly taken away be a thoughtless and reckless act, brought about by Jack Chapman and Peter Knowles.
“They displayed a blatant disregard for the safety and wellbeing of other people. We would like to think that, with the passage of time, they will be able to reflect on their actions and may one day feel genuine remorse for the devastation they have caused.
“My father-in-law has been forced to endure on a daily basis the consequences of the carnage inflicted upon him by the criminal and irresponsible behaviour of those convicted today.
“It is clear from what we have heard that Jack Chapman and Peter Knowles are no strangers to the legal system.
“We must accept Judge Morrow’s decision, although it is difficult to be satisfied that the sentences passed today properly take into account of their devil may care attitude, which places innocent members of the public in mortal danger.
“We would like to thank our families for their kindness and pay tribute to all members of the emergency services who attended the accident scene, plus the staff at Whiston Hospital who displayed such care and compassion.
“We are immensely grateful to Merseyside Police, especially to our liaison officer, who has been a continuous source of support during what has been a most difficult time for us.”
He added: “That day we learned the true meaning of the word pain. A phone call from staff at Whiston Hospital and we knew instantly that we would never see our lovely Mum again.
“The journey to hospital and the horror we faced were unspeakable. Mum was dead and Dad badly injured.
“She had squeezed Dad’s hand moments before she died. We are tormented by the fear that she may have suffered in her dying moments.”
The family described the mother-of-two and grandmother-of-four as a “bright, healthy and lively woman who was young for her years”.
He said: “She was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She held hard work, honesty, integrity, moral values, family bonds and treating people with respect right at the centre of her life. As a family, her values inspired us all.”
Liverpool Crown Court heard how Chapman was at the wheel of a car which ploughed into the side of Maureen and James Keenan’s Volvo in Rainhill.
It is believed the Volvo car he was test driving was travelling at 50mph on a residential street. The impact of the crash led to the death off 77-year-old Mrs Keenan.
Chapman, of Fairfield Road, Dentons Green, will serve the jail term after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.
His friend, Peter Knowles, who was in a speeding car directly behind Chapman, was jailed for six months for the lesser charge of driving dangerously.
Judge Graham Morrow at Liverpool Crown Court said there was no evidence that the pair were racing but added that both had been driving “aggressively” along St James Road in Rainhill on April 5 last year.
He said there “was an element of showing off to each other” and that “young drivers must realise that a moving car is a potential lethal weapon”.
On the day in question, the couple, who had been married 53 years, were returning home from a doctors’ surgery, where Mr Keenan had been for a check up after undergoing surgery.
But at the junction of Craven Road, Chapman, 22, ploughed into Mrs Keenan’s side of the car, causing both vehicles to spin around. The estimated speed upon impact was 50mph.
Former Army cadet Chapman, the son of two teachers, had been test driving the car with the intention of buying it from a friend.
Judge Morrow said that a doctor, who lived nearby, had heard the crash and went to investigate, but it was obvious that Mrs Keenan’s injuries were life threatening.
Mrs Keenan died after suffering extensive injuries, including multiple fractures.
Her 78-year-old husband was in hospital for ten days where he was treated for broken ribs and severe bruising.T
The scene of the smash was one of devastation with debris strewn across the road.
One witness described seeing two cars “screaming” past her, heading up the road. She said: “It was amazing they got so far, so quickly.”
Knowles, 22, of King Edward Road, Rainhill, was driving a Ford Fiesta that was said to be no more than a car’s length behind.
Just before the smash he was seen to pull out slowly before swerving, smashing into a wall and lamppost. He escaped without serious injury.
Chapman admitted the charge of causing death by dangerous driving earlier this year but the court heard how just last Friday – while on bail for the grave offence – he was caught driving while disqualified in St Helens.
A three-month jail sentence by St Helens Magistrates’ Court was imposed on Saturday.
Both Chapman and Knowles had previous convictions, including minor motoring offences and possession of cannabis.C
Chapman, was also convicted of failing to stop at the scene of an accident in October 2012.
Both were on police bail at the time of the fatal collision.
Mrs Keenan’s family, including her husband James, were in court for the sentencing.
Judge Morrow told both men, who were sat beside each other in the dock: “It’s not the prosecution’s case that you were racing, although the evidence of one eye witness may tend to suggest that Knowles was looking to overtake.
“It wouldn’t be safe to suggest you were racing nevertheless you were driving in tandem on a residential road at excessive speed. It was aggressive driving by both of you.
“If you had driven at a slower speed and paid appropriate attention, you would not be sitting in this dock today waiting to be sentenced.
“There was an element of showing off to each other. Other young drivers must realise that a moving car is a potential lethal weapon. Sadly and tragically the way in which you were driving turned the potential into reality. You will have to live with what you did for the rest of your lives.”
Chapman was jailed for three years and banned from driving for four years. Knowles was sentenced to a total of six months and disqualified from driving for two years.
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