Hartlepool mum spared jail for hit-and-run which left 10-year-old schoolgirl with serious injuries

Joanne Beven.
Joanne Beven.

A mother who mowed down a 10-year-old girl and left her unconscious in the middle of the road has been spared jail.

Bobbie Tighe was crossing Redcar Road in Red House in Sunderland on her way home from school when she was hit by disqualified driver Joanne Beven, from Hartlepool.

Bobbie Tighe.

Bobbie Tighe.

Bobbie's family have said they believe Beven has "got off lightly" after she was given a suspended jail term for the incident.
Newcastle Crown Court, sitting at Moot Hall, heard how Beven, 41, failed to stop and report the accident after causing Bobbie serious injury on Tuesday, November 6, last year.

Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, told the court how Bobbie was left in the middle of the road unconscious and suffered a fractured pelvis, soft tissue injuries and minor head injuries.

Mr Perks said: "She doesn't stop in what clearly was an obvious impact on a young child.

"The child was still unconscious when her mother arrived.

"She was in a great deal of pain.

"She was attended to immediately after the accident by a member of the public."

Mr Perks told the court how Bobbie's mother Samantha said the family have had numerous visits back and forward to the hospital and that the injures had had an impact on her daughter.

Mr Perks said: "She's had a period of time where she's had to be in a wheelchair unable to walk."

He told the court how an investigation was made by the child's mother and the vehicle Beven had been driving was found on a driveway.

It was missing a wing mirror, which had been left at the scene, and the number plates of the vehicle had been removed.

Mr Perks said Beven then took it upon herself to notify officers and voluntarily attend the police station to be interviewed in relation to the incident.

He told the court how a number of features on the vehicle identified that it was dangerous, including damage to the breaking system.

Mr Perks told the court how Beven was banned from driving at the time of the collision after being disqualified by a court for 18 months in October 2017.

Beven, of Helmsley Street, Hartlepool, admitted causing serious injury by driving whilst disqualified.

She also pleaded guilty to driving whilst disqualified, having no insurance, failing to report an accident and to produce certificate of insurance, failing to stop after a road accident and permitting danger of injury due to her vehicle.

Vic Laffey, defending, told the court: "I think what has to be said from the outset is Joanne Beven does deeply regret what has happened to this young girl.

"She's 41-years of age and she has three children of her own and one is virtually the same age as this little girl.

"Clearly she has made two very serious errors. The most obvious one being driving at all when one is disqualified, and driving the vehicle in the condition that this one was.

"She had the good sense to contact the police and go into the police station and admit her guilt."

Mr Laffey told the court how Beven had been suffering from mental health problems and personal problems.

He said she did not want to rely on her 71-year-old father or eldest daughter to look after her two young children if she was handed a prison sentence.

Mr Laffey told the court how they both lived "some distance" from where the children were settled.

He said: "It will also punish her children. They will be punished for what she has done."

The judge, Recorder John Aitken, told Beven: "You mowed down a 10-year-old girl happy to be going home after a day at school.

"You then compounded what had happened by simply driving off. Nothing noble comes out of this at that stage.

"Her mother was there when she woke up screaming in pain, knowing that your car had just drove off."

Mr Aitken said a major factor he had to take into consideration was that Bobbie will fully recover.

He said: "I hope by the age of 11 or 12 she will have put this entirely behind her.

"You have yourself two children, you have had time to think about this and are remorseful, I accept that.

"I do take into account your mental health and personal difficulties."

Recorder Aitken sentenced Beven to 18 months in prison suspended for two years.

Bobbie's grandparents Kathryn Cook, 52, and Trevor Cook, 56, from Sunderland, attended the sentencing hearing and were disappointed with the result.

Kathryn, who works as a civil servant, said: "I'm devastated. Bobbie is healing medically but she's having nightmares.

"She's started counselling and a couple of times she's actually froze when she's tried crossing the road.

"I think she should have been given a harsher punishment.

"Now we've got to go back and tell Bobbie that she's still out and about."

Trevor, who works as a HGV driver, added: "I expected her to be jailed today. I think she's got off lightly."