A MOMENT of indecision on a fledgling driver’s first trip out of Hartlepool caused the death of the “love of her life”.
Faye Johnson, 27, had only been driving for five months when she made a right-turn that led to a head-on smash which killed her partner Peter Tighe.
Yesterday, Johnson, of Jameson Road, Hartlepool, was given a £235 fine after admitting causing his death by driving without due care and attention.
The tragic smash, at 8am on August 17 last year, left Johnson and the family of Peter, who was her childhood sweetheart, distraught.
His parents were in court to support her and insisted she was not to blame, even though it was her lapse that led to the smash.
A statement from Peter Tighe senior read to the court said: “Faye’s mistake led to the death of my lad, but how can I blame her?
“This lovely innocent girl has lost the love of her life, and she has to live with that nightmare for the rest of her life.”
Peter, 26, from St Mary’s Court on Hartlepool’s Headland, was killed when the Nissan Micra he was a front-seat passenger in was hit by a flatbed wagon as it turned right onto the A19 northbound slip road from the A179 on the outskirts of town.
The pair were on their way to the passport office in Durham to get documents for a planned holiday, and it was the first time Johnson had driven out of the town.
She came to a stop to turn right onto the slip road, but the court heard she was unsure which entrance to take.
Prosecuting at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court, Heather Wilkinson said: “In her confusion she believed she needed to take the second entry point which was the access point for east-bound vehicles.
“As she approached, Mr Tighe said ‘no, it’s this one’.
“He said ‘stop’ as she started to turn right.
“Ms Johnson panicked and stopped, having started the manoeuvre across the east-bound carriageway.
“She started to accelerate but was unable to enter the slip road and the collision occurred.
“She has no recollection of seeing the flatbed wagon before starting the manoeuvre.”
The court heard how the DAF wagon was travelling at 45mph.
The driver tried to avoid the crash but had little time to react and smashed into the passenger side of the Micra.
Peter was airlifted to the James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, but doctors were unable to save him.
Distraught Johnson, a teaching assistant at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, in Hartlepool, was then arrested for causing his death, even though Peter’s family did not support the prosecution.
In interview, she said she was unsure of where she had to turn as there are two entrances onto the A19 northbound, one for drivers travelling from Wingate and one for drivers leaving Hartlepool.
The statement to the court from Peter Tighe senior added: “Faye is the closest physical thing we have of Peter.
“Faye made a tragic mistake, but all humans make mistakes.”
Mitigating, Barry Gray told justices: “It was an accident brought about frankly by a moment of indecision.
“It was borne out of confusion in the making of this right-hand turn, the type of error which many have made, even at the junction, but without such a tragic outcome.
“How can you punish this young lady further?
“She carries this punishment around with her like an albatross.”
Magistrates banned Johnson from the roads for a year and she will be forced to take an extended driving test at the end of her ban.
She was fined £235 with £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.