A carer was killed and her disabled friend left “fighting to walk again” for the second time in her life after the pair were hit by a speeding driver.
Tragic Lyndsey Green, 30, was sent spinning into the air after Jason Lawlor “lost concentration” and hit speeds of 50mph as he drove in a 30mph zone in Liverpool.
Nicola Worrall, then 22, was left with devastating injuries and spent months in rehab after the pair tried to cross the road to get a taxi at 10.45pm on March 17, 2018.
Lawlor, 35, of Stoneycroft, Liverpool, claimed the pair had “run across the road” in his first police interview but changed his story after CCTV footage proved they had walked at a normal pace.
He was initially charged with causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving, but eventually pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
Liverpool Crown Court heard he was “haunted” by the collision and has not got behind the wheel of a car since.
Henry Riding, prosecuting, told the court Ms Green and Ms Worrall were planning a night out to celebrate St Patrick Day, in memory of her mum Mary who died two years previously and loved the occasion.
Ms Green’s boyfriend, Samuel Collins, had crossed the dual carriageway and flagged down a taxi, before beckoning the two women to follow him.
CCTV and witness evidence revealed that after rounding a slight bend by a speed camera, which indicated he was travelling at 30mph, Lawlor had overtaken a car and reached around 50mph within a 100 yard stretch.
Mr Riding said: “A witness, John Abiaka, was driving along West Derby Road in the same direction as the defendant.
“It is likely that it was his vehicle that the defendant overtook prior to the collision.
“He saw the defendant’s car come from behind him and overtake. He formed the view that the defendant was driving too fast for the speed limit.
“He then heard two loud bangs and saw one of the females in the air.
Mr Abiaka went over to try to assist one of the females on the floor.
“He saw the defendant who said that he was the driver. Mr Abiaka suggested to the defendant that he had been speeding but the defendant replied: ‘I wasn’t speeding’.”
The court heard Ms Green and Ms Worrall were rushed to Aintree Hospital, where Ms Green was pronounced dead later that evening.
Ms Worrall suffered devastating injuries to her head, abdomen and elbow as well as multiple broken bones – requiring months in hospital and further months of painful physiotherapy.
Expert collision investigators established that Lawlor would have had an unobstructed view of the victims for at least 3.6 seconds before the collision.
Mr Riding said: “There is little doubt that had Mr Lawlor been paying attention and/or been travelling at a lesser speed he would, indeed should, have seen them and been able to avoid them.”
A victim personal statement by Ms Worrall, read to the court by Mr Riding, said: “I have spent most of the last three years thinking that my old life would soon be back and I would be that person again.
“I have finally realised that will never happen. The night of the accident has changed me.”
Ms Worrall said she had been born with a disability and took a long time to learn to walk properly, eventually surpassing her doctors’ expectations and gaining her independence.
But she said “for the second time in my life I had to fight to learn to walk again.”
A statement from Lyndsey’s uncle, Peter Green, said: “I have loved, lived and looked after my niece Lyndsey since the day she was born.
“I loved her like she was my own daughter and as she got older she was the one looking after me and my needs.
“The only comfort we can get from this is that she is resting peacefully in the arms of her mum, Mary Green.”
The court heard that Lawlor had previously been convicted of driving without due care and attention and speeding in 2015, when an officer saw him ‘tailgating’ another car on the M62 motorway.
Richard Orme, defending, said his client had spent the past three years in counselling and re-lived the crash in his nightmares.
He said: “While there is nothing he can do to turn back the clock in this case, and while the effect on him of this tragic accident pales into insignificance in comparison to to the Greens and the Worralls, in this particular case, the depth of the remorse and impact on Mr Lawlor himself in my respectful submission is deep and extreme.”
Mr Orme said his client had been working as a team leader at Marks & Spencer in Lime Street Station and had finished his night shift later than expected when he was driving home.
He urged the court to suspend any prison sentence, saying Lawlor had worked hard all his life, and was a loving and supportive husband and father to two young children.
Judge Garrett Byrne, sentencing, said Lawlor’s previous conviction showed that “you are someone willing to exceed the speed limit and drive carelessly.”
He told the defendant: “You do have strong personal mitigation. I accept you are genuinely remorseful and your sorrow is not for yourself, but for your victims and their families as it should be, and that is very much to your credit.
“You’re a married man with two young children aged three and five. A term of imprisonment will have serious consequences for them both financially and emotionally, and that weighs heavily on the court.
“However the offence is so serious only an immediate term of imprisonment will suffice, as the sentence must reflect the avoidable loss of a very precious life.”
Lawlor was jailed for nine months and banned from driving for two years, beginning from the date of his release.