Drugs baron wife jailed for head-on death crash

  • 26 February 2013
  • From the section Wiltshire
Media captionDavid Wright said Paula Barnes destroyed his family when she killed his wife Diane while speeding down a road drunk.

The wife of a drug baron who fled Britain after killing a school teacher in a head-on crash has been jailed.

Paula Barnes, 45, from Baydon near Marlborough, was arrested in Holland two years after the collision which killed Diane Wright.

Barnes' husband is serving a 12 year jail term for smuggling more than £25m of cannabis into the UK.

She was jailed for eight years and five months at Swindon Crown Court after admitting death by dangerous driving.

The court was told she was drunk, driving at speeds estimated by witnesses as between 80 and 100mph and on the wrong side of the road at the time of the crash.

Barnes narrowly avoided two other collisions while driving two and a half times over the legal drink drive limit before hitting Mrs Wright's BMW.

The 49-year-old mother-of-two, from Royal Wootton Bassett, died from her injuries at the scene in Foxhill, Baydon, on 23 September 2010.

Judge Euan Ambrose sentenced Barnes to eight years for causing death by dangerous driving and five months for failing to surrender which she also pleaded guilty to.

Barnes was also banned from driving for 10 years.

'Coward's way out'

The judge said: "You caused other road users to take evasive action. You only narrowly avoided two other head-on collisions.

Image caption Diane Wright (centre right) was described as the 'lynchpin' of her family

"It is impossible to reconcile your actions in absconding and how that affected Mrs Wright's family with any real sense of wanting to put things right."

Barnes of Aldbourne Road, Baydon, was originally arrested after being released from hospital on 4 November 2010.

But she went on the run and was eventually tracked down to Amsterdam from where she was extradited in November last year.

Mrs Wright's widower David, a sergeant in the Metropolitan Police, said after sentencing: "Fleeing to Holland was a coward's way out instead of facing up to what she had done.

"We all thought she would never be found. Getting eight years and five months today will never be enough for what she has done.

""She has destroyed the family and the future together. Today we have a small amount of closure and we can try to move forward.

"I hope Paula Barnes realises what she has done, having totally wrecked our family happiness."

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