Driver jailed for causing ‘tragic and avoidable death’ of Donington teenager

Jessica Danby, formerly of Donington.
Jessica Danby, formerly of Donington.
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A driver who drove straight into a Donington teenager and killed her after overtaking a HGV has been jailed for two years today.

Philip Paddington-Wheatcroft (54) collided with a moped ridden by teenager Jessica Danby (19) as she was travelling from her home along the A52 to work at a cafe in Boston.

What you did was show a gross disregard for the safety of a vulnerable category of road user

Paddington-Wheatcroft, of Main Road, Sibsey, was also banned from driving for four years by Judge Simon Hirst during a hearing at Lincoln Crown Court.

The court heard that Jessica, formerly of Herons Walk, Donington, had her headlights on and was wearing high-visibility clothing at the time of the fatal crash on October 1, 2015.

But according to Gordon Aspden, prosecuting, Paddington-Wheatcroft failed to see her in dense fog as he carried out the manoeuvre on a straight stretch of road at Frampton.

Mr Aspden, prosecuting, said “Jessica Danby was 19 years old at the time of her tragic and avoidable death. “The location was on the A52 at Frampton on a long straight stretch of road, a typical Fenland road.

“On that morning the conditions were extremely poor, it was murky and there was intermittent, large and dense patches of fog.”

Mr Aspden added that Jessica was clearly visible to other road users because of her clothing and the fact that her moped lights were on.

“It is plain to see that there was absolutely no fault at all that can be attached to the way Jessica was dressed and the way she controlled her moped that morning.”

“Paddington-Wheatcroft was driving the second of two cars behind an articulated lorry tractor unit which was travelling in the opposite direction to Jessica.”

The court heard that the first car, driven by Graeme Riches (55), of Leverett Road, Boston, overtook the lorry.

Mr Aspden said: “Having overtaken (the lorry), Riches veered back in no doubt having seen Jessica approaching.

“Paddington-Wheatcroft then overtook Riches and why he took that decision one will never know.

“There was no reason to overtake apart from impatience and Jess was in a position where she could do nothing to avoid a head-on collision.

“That is what happened, Jessica was fatally injured and her moped was damaged beyond recognition.”

It emerged during the hearing that Paddington-Wheatcroft had stopped further down the road and immediately called the emergency services before doing what he could to help the teenager.

He was arrested when police arrived at the scene, with Paddington-Wheatcroft having later admitted to causing death by dangerous driving.

In addition to the two-year jail term and four-year driving ban, Paddington-Wheatcroft was also ordered to pass an extended driving test before he can have his licence back.

Passing sentence, Judge Hirst said: “Visibility was very poor, but what you did was show a gross disregard for the safety of a vulnerable category of road user.”

Alexander Stein, mitigating, said that Paddington-Wheatcroft had no previous convictions and held a clean driving licence at the time of the collision.

Mr Stein added: “The remorse he feels for the terrible mistake he made that day is genuine.

“This was a single bad manoeuvre and he accepts that it was dangerous driving.

“There is no blame at all on Miss Danby as she was driving perfectly sensibly.”

Meanwhile, Riches was charged with dangerous driving as a result of his overtaking manoeuvre moments before the fatal collision.

However, the matter was not subsequently pursued by the prosecution after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and ruled to be too ill to attend court.

The charge was left to lie on the file.