Guest blog: Christopher Barrow – Fix our Broken Justice System – Lorraine’s story
Christopher Barrow’s wife, Lorraine (57), was killed by a speeding driver, Ms Victoria Hamer, when cycling home from work. She died at the scene of the crash, approximately one metre from her home. For breaking the law and killing someone Ms Hamer was sentenced to a six-month curfew, 200 hours community service, a one-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, and a 30-month driving disqualification, after which she will need to pass an advanced driving re-test before being able to get behind the wheel again.
By Christopher Barrow
Fix our Broken Justice System! It is not just about handing down a life sentence for the most horrific cases of causing death by dangerous driving. The justice system regarding road crime is broken to the core.
On 17 September 2020, Lorraine, my beloved wife, and my soul mate was cycling home after finishing her shift at the local school. She was a cleaner at the school and had cycled to and from work, a distance of approximately one mile, for the past 13 years.
As she was signalling right to enter our home, Lorraine was hit by a speeding car. It was about 6.20pm. As normal, she was doing everything right, textbook Highway Code, her signal was clear, her road position was correct, she was wearing a high-visibility vest, cycling jacket and helmet with rear-facing light. As stated in the Road Traffic Incident Report “this created a contrast against the dark hedgerow to her nearside.” She was there to be seen.
The car, driven by Ms Victoria Hamer, was travelling on a rural road known to her – it was her normal route to and from work. The car was travelling at a minimum speed of 44mph in a 30mph zone. The figure of 44mph has been rounded down by the police. In fact, there is evidence in the Road Traffic Incident Report that indicates she was accelerating.
Lorraine went up over the top of the car and ended up in a farm gateway, 27 metres from the point of impact. Ms Hamer brought her vehicle to a stop between 50 and 60 metres from the point of impact. Ms Hamer did not make an evasive manoeuvre or brake until after ploughing into Lorraine.I was called out of the house by one of Lorraine’s colleagues. Approaching the scene I could see my beloved Lorraine, motionless with a significant amount of blood on the road where she had been hit. I attempted CPR but could not save her life. Lorraine died from her injuries at the scene.
Lorraine was killed by a speeding driver, who was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, not because of the glare of the sun as she claimed, but because, having considered the evidence, the CPS decided Ms Hamer should be charged with an offence of causing death by dangerous driving, given her decision to drive in a built-up area at a speed well in excess of the legal limit. She did not pay attention and her driving failed to take account of the prevailing road conditions which included the low sun and Lorraine as a vulnerable road user.
In fact, visibility was between 200 and 150 metres, with four witnesses stating that although bright, visibility was good and clear. Ms Hamer was not paying attention – doing what, we do not know. She gave a “no Comment” interview. We will never know the truth behind why Lorraine was killed.
Our 39-year-old partnership has been destroyed, ending just three days after our 35th wedding anniversary. Our retirement plans have been snatched away from us, our children have lost a loving mother, our grandson has lost his nanny, and her mother has lost her only daughter. The ripples run wide and deep.
In the light of overwhelming evidence, including CCTV footage of the whole event and a police reconstruction, Ms Hamer entered a guilty plea. She was sentenced to a six-month curfew, 200 hours’ community service, and a one-year prison sentence, suspended for two years. She was also handed a 30-month driving disqualification, after which she will need to pass an advanced driving re-test before being able to get behind the wheel again.
Just how does someone who breaks the law and kills someone not go to prison?
Drivers have a duty of care and a responsibility to protect other people on the roads.
The justice system has a responsibility to the victims and to the general public by handing down sentences that act as a deterrent, sending a clear message that breaking the law and killing someone will not be tolerated.
Updated on: 23 October 2023