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Catherine Hamer's family say 'justice has not been done'

By NDJNicole  |  Posted: November 14, 2012

  • Catherine Hamer

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THE family of a student killed in a crash say their faith in justice has been shaken after a minibus driver was cleared of causing her death.

Catherine Hamer was 21 when she died in a car accident on May 28 last year.

Jack Carter, 21, was accused of causing her death by careless driving.

The minibus he was driving collided with Catherine's car on the A3124 near Dolton.

But Carter, of Haines Hill, Taunton, was found not guilty after a jury at Exeter Crown Court was told the minibus had skidded on loose stones.

This week Catherine's mother Kerry Little, from Frithelstock Stone, spoke of her shock at the verdict.

She said: "I couldn't go into the court to hear the verdict. The rest of the family did and promptly walked out, completely drained, angry, upset, disbelieving and disappointed that we had no justice for Catherine.

"I went into shock. I went to the trial as it was the last thing I could do for Catherine and immediately after the trial I went into auto-pilot.

"Afterwards everyone came back home to Frithelstock Stone. When everyone left it felt as though I had gone back at least a year in the grieving process."

Describing the moment she found out about the accident, she said: "Catherine and her boyfriend Lee were coming home for my birthday.

"At approximately 7.30pm on May 28 a police car pulled up on the drive and our world fell apart.

"The police family liaison officer had come straight from the accident site and said Catherine had been involved in a fatal accident.

"Jack Carter had been on the wrong side of the carriageway when he hit Catherine.

"She died almost immediately."

Catherine's grandparents, Peter and Kathleen Rush, are concerned about the verdict.

The family had waited 17 months for a trial so that Peter Rowe, who is principle researcher at the Transport Research Laboratory, could give evidence.

Mr and Mrs Rush said Mr Rowe's opinion was that a line of small stones was not the cause of the accident.

He said that the gentle 15 degree bend could be safely taken at speed, even in wet conditions.

Mr Rush said: "There has never been a problem on this section of the A3124 before or since the accident.

"I have travelled the road hundreds of times in all conditions over the last three decades and found it to be a safe, well-maintained road.

"Mr Carter managed to have a problem less than one mile from his start position on a familiar road and in a vehicle he was also familiar with.

"Most competent drivers manage to drive safely on our Devon roads even when there are sometimes real hazards to avoid or negotiate.

"In my opinion this standard of competence and vigilance expected and delivered by the vast majority of drivers was certainly not apparent in this case."

Mr Rush said the family found the defence barrister's observation that Catherine was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" offensive.

He said: "Catherine was in her rightful place on the right side of the road but with the wrong driver approaching.

"After a very long wait for the case to be heard in crown court our faith in justice has been shaken by the acceptance of the most frail evidence that attaches the blame to a perfectly safe stretch of road.

"It is our opinion that this verdict is unsafe because it offers a worrying way out for cases of a similar nature having no independent witnesses – the road can take the blame.

"Catherine's family do not consider justice to have been done."

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  • barumbcfc  |  November 16 2012, 8:13PM

    Re accom I know who I blame !!!

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  • Mally  |  November 16 2012, 7:19PM

    Accom - please do your research before commenting! The road was not 'dangerously maintained' (if there is such a thing-oxymoron). If you read the article carefully it mentioned a 'line of loose small stones' and that Mr Rowe from the Transport Research Laboratory considered that the gentle 15 degree bend could be safely taken at speed, even in wet conditions. If one is not capable of driving safely over a line of small loose stones how on earth do people with gravel driveways manage to go about their day without regularly killing people!

    |   3
  • accom  |  November 15 2012, 7:34AM

    Sillybob - I agree, someone is to blame - but if it is the council, they should take action against them, not against the driver who happened to be driving over an allegedly dangerously maintained piece of road, leading him to lose control and have the absolutely dreadful burden of this leading to the death of another innocent person: something which he will live with every day of his life, but if it was not carelessness on his part, he should not go down for it. It could happen to any of us, imagine the guilt you must feel - even if you're cleared by a court, you will be punishing yourself forever. First and foremost my sympathy is with Ms Hamer's family, but thoughts must also go to genuinely innocent people who's accidental, unintentional and (according to the jury) non-careless actions through no fault of their own lead to someone else being killed.

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  • Mally  |  November 14 2012, 8:28PM

    In response to the previous comment, the charge was careless driving not dangerous driving and the family were not 'chasing for him to be hanged' but to found guilty of driving carelessly.

    |   16
  • sillybob  |  November 14 2012, 5:09PM

    there is some one to blame, no one dies for no reason at that age,if he's not to blame then the council is for poor surfaces........

    |   5
  • accom  |  November 14 2012, 12:54PM

    While my infinite sympathy goes to her family and it is unimaginable what they must be going through, it has emerged in court, after evidence from all sides, that what happened was a tragic accident. This will be no consolation to the deceased's family but the person who crashed into her has been found to not have driven dangerously, and he will live with it for every day for the rest of his life. Their anger is 100% understandable but chasing for punishment for someone who has been found not to have been dangerous, and who did this entirely by accident, will not bring their daughter back. I have lost a family member suddenly through the careless but unintentional actions of a third party and chasing for them to be hanged does not help the grieving process at all. He has been found not guilty, that is the end of that matter, they should carry on with their lives as well as they can.

    |   -8