Rugby man avoids jail after causing death of young mother in collision

A former driving instructor pleaded guilty to causing death by driving without due care or attention.

Thursday, 7th June 2018, 5:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 4:31 pm
The junction where the collision happened

Neil Abbott, 55, from Rothley Drive in Warwickshire, hit 32-year-old Anna Hodgkins with his grey Vauxhall Insignia at the junction of Kilsby Road with Nortoft Lane in Barby while she was jogging on the morning of January 27, 2017.

Mrs Hodgkins was taken to University Hospital Coventry with serious injuries after Abbott called the emergency services. She died some hours later.

"My wife will never get to hold our beautiful 18-month-old daughter again," said Mrs Hodgkins' husband, Dr Phil Hodgkins, who read an impact statement at Northampton Crown Court.

"She will never look into her eyes and say how much she loves her every day.

"Our daughter will never get to hug and kiss her mummy as her friends do.

"We will never be a family again."

Mrs Hodgkins was wearing bright-coloured hi-vis running clothing and the court heard that Abbott, speaking at the scene of the collision, said he didn't know how he hadn't seen Mrs Hodgkins before hitting her - an opinion he retains until this day.

Mitigating for Abbott, Alan Compton told the court his client had been sent a copy of the victim impact statement and responded to it by saying he had "total empathy" with the Hodgkins after he himself lost his wife. She suffered a sudden heart attack which meant Abbott had to raise their three children on his own.

Mr Compton said Abbott - a former driving instructor - was wracked with guilt and felt deep remorse for what had happened.

Judge Adrienne Lucking sentenced Abbott to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for 24 months and disqualified him from driving for two years, after which he would have to take a retest. Abbott will also pay a victim surcharge of £1,500 with Judge Lucking deeming it "not appropriate that the public should bear the cost" of the incident.

"Nothing I say today is going to change what happened," said Judge Lucking. "Nothing I say will bring Anna Hodgkins back to her family.

"Nothing and no sentence will repair the damage that you have done."

Judge Lucking considered Abbott's good character, his good driving record, and the fact he was supporting his children financially, as well as caring for his elderly mother.

"You have struggled to come to terms with the events," said Judge Lucking. "There is a huge amount that can be said in your favour."