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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Crash victim speaks out after Cumbrian driver fails to get fine reduced

Judges have thrown out a woman’s appeal against a £3,000 fine for causing a crash which left her passenger with life-threatening injuries.

Rachael Farrell photo
Rachael Farrell

Amber Sullivan, 20, lost control of her Volkswagen Polo car careering across the road and slamming into a tree.

Her passenger, 34-year-old Rachael Farrell, from Lowca, near Whitehaven, suffered “devastating” injuries, including a smashed collar bone and a broken neck.

The mum-of-two told how her injuries turned her life upside down, robbing her of her dream of working as a horse riding tutor.

Sullivan, 20, of Bowthorn Road, Cleator Moor, was fined at Carlisle Crown Court last August after she admitted driving without due care and attention.

She was also told to pay £1,500 costs, banned from driving for six months and ordered to take another test.

But Sullivan this week challenged her sentence at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with her lawyers arguing the fine was “too high”.

Her appeal was dismissed by three of the country’s most senior judges, who said that £3,000 was “not excessive” and that she had no cause for complaint.

Sullivan was giving Miss Farrell a lift to a horse event in Morpeth on July 17 2011, when she lost control of her car as she took a left-hand bend on the A66 at Broughton Cross.

Although she wasn’t speeding, the court heard she was an inexperienced driver and her speed was too fast for the conditions.

The passenger-side took the brunt of the impact. As a result, Miss Farrell suffered multiple injuries and had to be cut free from the car.

Judge Peter Beaumont QC told the court that the injuries had “devastating consequences” for her.

Speaking yesterday, Ms Farrell said: “I was in intensive care for more than a week and in hospital for eight weeks.

“They didn’t know whether I’d ever be able to walk again. I’ve only just finished having physiotherapy.”

She is grateful she survived for the sake of her family, particularly her children Georgina, 10, and Harry, six, partner Luke Naylor, 32, and parents Linda and Hoard Farrell.

She added: “I’m pleased with the outcome of the court case. She should have accepted her punishment. I used to ride horses for a living, and when the accident happened I was just weeks away from qualifying as an instructor.

“That was my dream, but my neck hasn’t healed, and now I can’t do that. I’m never going to be like I was.”

Rachael thanked everybody who has helped her, including her friends Laura Love, and Lisa Rooney, and PC Andy Laverick.

Sullivan’s lawyers argued the fine was too hefty, saying the crown court judge placed too much weight on the fact she owned a horse.

Dismissing the appeal, Judge Beaumont said the judge was entitled to take that into account when setting the level of the fine.

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