A THIRD MAN has been jailed for causing the death of 16-year-old Lucy Commins in a three vehicle ‘horror smash’ in Coventry last year.
Ross Clark has been sentenced to seven years behind bars and a four-year driving ban today (Friday, September 11) at Warwick Crown Court after being found guilty by a unanimous verdict in June of causing Lucy’s death by careless driving and failing to provide a specimen of blood for analysis.
The 38-year-old, who was living locally at the time but now resides in Seven Oaks, Kent had been drinking in the Craven Arms Public House on Woodway Lane, Coventry prior to the collision on Ansty Road which killed the teenager.
Lucy, from Bedworth, and a friend, Taylor Hall, had been out celebrating on the day before Taylor’s 17th birthday, and it was obvious they had a lot to drink.
Clark, who had not met the pair before that evening, offered to take them to a petrol station to buy some cigarettes.
But, on the return journey Clark turned his Mercedes CLK directly into the path of two vehicles at the junction of Ansty Road and Woodway Lane.
The two vehicles, a silver VW Golf driven by Sean Sparkes, and a black Ford Fiesta ST driven by Reece Jones, were racing on Ansty Road at speeds of over 70mph.
And as Clark turned in front of them Sparkes’ Golf collided with the passenger side of the Mercedes, killing Lucy almost instantly as she sat in the front passenger seat.
Taylor, Lucy’s 17-year-old friend, received serious injuries from which she continues to recover.
Ross Clark was taken to hospital immediately after the collision, but refused to provide a specimen of blood at hospital for alcohol analysis.
Witnesses during his trial described him as drunk and smelling strongly of alcohol.
But Clark, who had refused to answer any questions from the date of the collision to the end of his trial, simply claimed via third parties that he was under the influence of morphine during the procedure at hospital and so couldn’t understand what was being asked of him.
The jury, hearing that Clark had made ‘a staggeringly stupid and reckless manoeuvre’ and had been convicted twice previously of drink driving, found him guilty after a week long trial, of causing Lucy’s death by driving carelessly and failing to provide a specimen of blood without reasonable excuse.
Speaking of the loss of their ‘baby’, Lucy’s family have said no sentence will ever be enough.
They added: “The people responsible have not only taken Lucy’s life, they have taken the life from our whole family.
“We are left serving a life sentence.
“The family would like to thank everyone concerned for their help and support at this difficult time – it is the only thing that’s kept us going.”
Sgt Adam Green from the Regional Collision Investigation Unit said the investigation had been particularly difficult as the actions of each driver had to be taken into account, but that it was not the fault of just one person.
He said: “In this case, all three drivers had their part to play in Lucy’s death.
“As was expected, they tried to blame each other, but the fact remains, as has been proven at court, that had each of them not behaved in the way that they did on that night, Lucy would still be here.
“Reece Jones, Sean Sparkes and Ross Clark will have to live with their actions, as will Lucy’s family.”
Sgt Green went on to commend the dignity Lucy’s family showed throughout their court appearances in such a difficult time.
He added: “This collision has shown that all too often, both speed and drink driving kill.
“It doesn’t matter that it is a short journey, as was the case here, excessive speed reduces the ability to react to changing circumstances and alcohol impairs judgement.
“A combination of the two on that evening resulted in the death of Lucy, from which her family will most likely never recover.”
In November last year Golf driver, 33-year-old Sean Sparkes of Nuneaton Road, Bulkington, was jailed for six-and-a-half years for causing death by dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice.
Fiesta driver, 24-year-old Reece Jones aged 24 of Attoxhall Road, Coventry who was a disqualified driver and was on licence from prison for robbery at the time, was jailed for eight years and nine months after he failed to stop at the scene – driving his Fiesta on the wrong side of the dual carriageway to escape.
Jones was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving, dangerous driving following the collision, driving whilst disqualified and using a vehicle with no insurance on the day of the collision, driving whilst disqualified and using a vehicle with no insurance on the day he was stopped by police and perverting the course of justice after he changed the appearance of his vehicle.
A fourth man, Marc Donaldson, awaits trial for an offence of perverting the course of justice, but was not directly involved in the collision.