8th May, 2021

Speeding driver who killed 11-year-old Isabelle Boshell in Coventry avoids jail

Coventry Editorial 22nd Apr, 2021

A SPEEDING driver who was rushing home from work when he hit and killed a young girl as she ran across the road in front of him has avoided jail.

And 11-year-old Isabelle Boshell’s irate father stormed out of court when he realised a judge at Warwick Crown Court was about to give driver Ola Onubogu a suspended sentence.

Onubogu,54, of Wappenbury Road, Wood End, Coventry, had pleaded guilty to causing Isabelle’s death in October last year by careless driving.

He was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for two years, ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work and banned from driving for 15 months.

Prosecutor Graham Russell said the tragic collision took place at shortly after 6pm on October 22 as Onubogu was driving home from work along the B4098 Tamworth Road.

It happened shortly after the junction with Waste Lane on the approach to a pedestrian crossing just before the Keresley Grange Academy.

And Mr Russell pointed out that Onubogu, who had a clean driving licence, was doing an estimated 47mph, despite the 30mph speed limit and a sign warning of the presence of the academy.

The crossing lights were on green for traffic, and his dashcam captured the moment when his Toyota struck Isabelle as she ran across the road from his right, throwing her into the air.

She had been walking with two friends along Tamworth Road from the direction of Waste Lane, and she looked over her shoulder three times before making to cross the road.

The first two times her friends were behind her, but on the third occasion they were ahead of her, said Mr Russell.

He pointed out: “Many children cannot judge how fast cars are going or how far away they are, and it may have been shielded from her view by another car travelling in the opposite direction.

“She began to run across the road. If the defendant did not see her start to run, she would first have been visible just a second later when she emerged from the rear of a passing van.”

Isabelle began to run at the start of the zigzag lines, rather than at the crossing itself, after the white van had gone past her and her friends heading in the opposite direction.

At the moment of impact, Onubogu was doing 37 to 45mph, and a police accident investigator calculated that if he had been doing 30mph he would have been able to stop before hitting her.

Passers-by immediately rushed to Isabelle’s aid, and Onubogo also remained at the scene, and she was taken by ambulance to University Hospital and then to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

But she had a devastating brain injury, and four days later her parents had to take the heartbreaking decision to agree to life support being withdrawn, and she died 20 minutes later.

When Onubogu was later interviewed he gave a statement in which he expressed his ‘heart-felt condolences’ to Isabelle’s family, adding: “I have children of my own and cannot believe my actions have placed the family of another child in such pain.”

Isabelle’s father Matthew Boshell read a statement in which he said: “Every day I wake up and have to come to the realisation that Isabelle is no longer with us.

“The pain left behind is like nothing I have ever felt. It is with me every second I am awake.

“When they turned the machine off we watched her lips turn blue and her hands go cold. Walking out of the room was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.”

Ruth Zentler-Munro, defending, said: “He accepts full responsibility for what happened. He accepts he was speeding, and that if he had not been speeding, none of us would be here today.

“He is deeply remorseful. This is a man who is absolutely stricken by his lack of judgement on that day. He is devastate by the consequences of his actions.

“He was rushing back from work to his family, and his attention on approaching the crossing was between the side road at the approach to the school and the lights of the crossing.

“He unfortunately did not see Miss Boshell until she emerged from behind the white van, and he slammed on his brakes but was unable to avoid her.”

Sentencing Onubogu, Judge Anthony Potter told him: “There is nothing you can do and nothing I can do that can possibly take away the pain Isabelle’s family suffer and will continue to suffer for the rest of their lives.

“You accept you were travelling at greater than the speed limit… and at a stage where you approached where Isabelle was walking there is a pedestrian crossing and ‘slow’ painted on the surface.

“She came from the right side, running between traffic behind a van, and because of your speed you were unable to stop.

“You are a parent yourself. It is impossible to imagine what goes through a parent’s mind when they are faced with the decision on whether they should allow life support to be withdrawn – and they had to make that decision.

“There are no words that could possibly express the loss the Boshell family has suffered.

“Had you obeyed the speed limit on that road, no matter how unpredictable Isabelle’s actions might have been, you would have been able to avoid that accident.”

Judge Potter said the offence ‘plainly crosses the custody threshold,’ but that there was strong mitigation which moved it towards a suspended sentence.

Without waiting to hear the sentence, Mr Boshell threw his statement to the floor in front of the judge and stormed out of court, declaring: “What a s**t show.”

He was followed by another family member who commented as she left: “I hope you’ve got a little girl of the same age.”

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