Sophie Brimble: Man jailed for killing woman in race crash

Image source, Wales News Service
Image caption,
Neil Brooks had denied causing death by dangerous driving

A driver who caused the "needless" death of a woman in an 80mph crash has been jailed for eight years.

Neil Brooks, 49, of Beaufort, Ebbw Vale, in Blaenau Gwent, raced his friend Jay Bayliss through residential streets in Brynmawr in July 2017.

Mr Bayliss' girlfriend Sophie Brimble, 20, was a front seat passenger when he lost control to smash into a lamppost.

Brooks had earlier been found guilty at Cardiff Crown Court of causing her death by dangerous driving.

He was also found guilty of causing serious injury to Mr Bayliss by dangerous driving.

Mr Bayliss was so severely injured he was not fit to be charged over Miss Brimble's death.

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Sophie Brimble was killed in the crash in July 2017

Brooks, driving a VW Bora, instigated the "impromptu" race late at night when he recognised Mr Bayliss' VW Polo.

Prosecutor Matthew Cobbe said: "It was one driver egging the other on. It was this race that led to the catastrophic collision which led to the death of Miss Brimble."

Mr Cobbe said the pair were driving "aggressively" at more than double the 30mph speed limit in the minutes before the fatal crash.

He said: "They pushed their vehicles hard through this residential area, both of them reaching speeds in excess of 80mph, their focus now on their race.

"Mr Bayliss lost control, his car began to rotate and it slid towards a metal lamp-post. The result was a catastrophe."

Ms Brimble, of Crickhowell, Powys, died at the scene on King Street, Brynmawr.

Her mother, Ruth Jenkins, said in a victim impact statement, the family's life had "changed forever" on that day.

"Having the police officer tell us that Sophie had died left us in complete shock and for days, everything was a daze," she said.

"I was so angry with Bayliss for driving like an idiot. How could be so stupid and selfish.

"This should never have happened. It was all down to two drivers' stupidity and carelessness with no thoughts of consequences."

Sentencing Brooks, Judge Michael Fitton said: "The loss of Sophie's life at the age of 20 was a needless tragedy that could so easily have been avoided.

"The hurt that has been caused is incalculable."

Brooks was also disqualified from driving for a total of nine years.

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