Boyfriend whose careless driving caused girlfriend’s death is jailed

A motorist whose careless driving caused his girlfriend’s death in a horror crash near Keswick during a winter storm has been jailed.

Lana Maddison, 19, was a backseat passenger when her 21-year-old boyfriend Joe Rowland careered off the road in a Ford Fiesta.

She was rushed to hospital in a critical condition but tragically died five days later.

Her heartbroken mother Lisa said Lana’s death had ‘shattered’ the lives of her family.

Rowland today wept as he was jailed for 10 months and banned from driving for three years.

He pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at Carlisle Crown Court.

Lana suffered an 'unsurvivable' traumatic head injury and she died on December 3 at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary after her life-support was withdrawn

The Fiesta crashed on the A591 near Keswick, Cumbria, on November 28, 2021, as Britain was battered by Storm Arwen.

Yellow weather warnings for snow and ice were in place in much of northern England at the time of the crash amid strong winds and heavy rainfall.

Temperatures plummeted to below freezing as large swathes of the north was covered in up to eight inches of snow.

The court heard Rowland had picked up Lana from her home in Silloth and collected another friend from Torpenhow before setting off to see more friends in Keswick.

Prosecutor Andrew Evans said the group had enjoyed a Chinese meal and then set off towards home at 8.15pm.

By this time, Storm Arwen had set in, bringing snow, ice and flooding.

Rowland lost control of his Ford Fiesta as he tried to negotiate a right-hand bend and his car left the road ‘at speed’ and crashed into a tree.

Lana suffered an ‘unsurvivable’ traumatic head injury and she died on December 3 at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary after her life-support was withdrawn.

In his police interview, Rowland claimed that he had driven at 25mph just before the crash.

But the investigation confirmed that four seconds before the crash he was doing 55mph while at the point of impact his speed was 33mph.

The court heard it would have been unsafe to drive at over 30mph.

In a statement read to the court, Lana’s mum Lisa said she had a ‘bright and bubbly personality’ with an infectious smile.

She said Lana had filled her family’s home with ‘fun, love and laughter’, adding: ‘Since Lana’s tragic death, our lives have been completely shattered. There is no colour in our lives any more, just grey.

‘Our hearts are truly broken. No amount of time will heal that pain. Every day so far has been a battle.

‘She was kind and thoughtful, always ensuring all her friends were included and just being a true friend to all, she was full of life and energy, a real little pocket rocket.

‘She made our little family complete in so many ways.

‘Lana and her brother Luke had a fantastic relationship, they would be constantly playing practical jokes on each other.

‘She would fill her brother’s drinking bottle up with hot water instead of cold, they would go to the shop to buy snacks and order takeaways, they watched silly videos and movies together, laughing and giggling.

‘Lana was not only my daughter, but she grew to become my best friend, we would confide and support each other, spending hours, choosing clothes, sharing shoes and bags, trialling make up.

‘She loved her mam curling and plaiting her hair, our home was full of fun, love and laughter.

‘It’s difficult to see a future for us as our beautiful daughter will no longer be a part of it.

‘We live each day as best we can, with the beautiful memories she left us with in our hearts eternally.’

Kim Whittlestone, defending, said: ‘This was an offence caused by inexperience rather than irresponsibility.

‘There was no alcohol, no drugs, no mobile phone use. This is not a case where we are dealing with a boy racer type incident. It was due to inexperience.’

Rowland, who was 19 at the time of the accident, had completed an engineering apprenticeship and was keen to work and took responsibility for others.

Judge Nicholas Barker told him: ‘The reason you lost control was because you were travelling too fast for the weather and road conditions.

‘In the moments before impact, your speed was assessed as being 55mph.

‘The consequences of your decision were, and remain, entirely tragic.

‘Lana, your then girlfriend and rear seat passenger, suffered a catastrophic brain injury. She was pronounced dead on December 3, some days later.’

He said it should have been obvious to Rowland that he needed to drive that evening with ‘extreme’ caution.

That he failed to wear his seat belt was an indication of his ‘blithe disregard’ of the risks, the judge added.

The judge said he accepted that Rowland’s remorse was genuine and that he was capable of rehabilitation.


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