Car chase death drivers face jail
- 21 June 2012
- From the section Somerset
Two drivers are facing jail after being convicted of killing a teenage girl during a car chase through Taunton.
Leanne Burnell, 21, and her boyfriend Leonard Jones, 42, were playing "cat and mouse" when Jones's car hit Amy Hofmeister and her friend Lucy Hawkins.
The girls had been cycling on a path. Amy, 13, died and Lucy was injured.
Jones, of Taunton, admitted causing death by dangerous driving and Burnell, of Bishops Hull, was found guilty of the same charge after a four-day trial.
Taunton Crown Court heard Jones's car, a Vauxhall Vectra, ploughed into the girls after hitting a kerb and flipping over last June.
'High speed game'
During the trial jurors heard evidence from eyewitnesses who described seeing Jones driving at 80mph after telling his front seat passenger 'I'll catch her, I'll catch her'.
He had just overtaken Burnell's Ford Focus when he lost control on Blackbrook Way.
William Hunter, prosecuting, said: "Leonard Jones was driving far too fast because, the prosecution say, he was playing a high speed game of chase - or racing - with another car," he said.
"He was winning that game. The prosecution case is that as a result of game playing - this high speed and dangerous game - on a road in built up area with a speed limit of 30mph, Amy Hofmeister was killed."
The prosecutor said that although Burnell was not at the wheel of the car that crashed into Amy, she was still to blame.
Mr Hunter added: "By the manner and actions of her driving she was encouraging Leonard Jones to drive dangerously. She was in effect egging him on.
"A car is not a toy and the road is not a playground.
"Call it chase, call it racing, call it cat and mouse. It is as a result of using the road as a playground that Amy Hofmeister lost her life."
Burnell told the jury she was not driving her Ford Focus above 30mph because she was low on fuel and did not have enough money to buy any more.
She also denied that she had been involved in a race with her boyfriend.
Prosecutors told the court Burnell and Jones were travelling at 50mph at the time of the crash.
Both will be sentenced at a later date.