Driver who caused death of Kettering schoolgirl locked up
An aspiring police officer caused the death of a Kettering schoolgirl after losing control of his vehicle while following a sports car.
Meredita Kelmelyte, 17, was a passenger in a Vauxhall Corsa when it hit a tree in Orlingbury Road, Pytchley, just after 9pm on April 18 last year.
The driver of the car, 19-year-old Joe Plimmer, admitted causing death by careless driving on what was supposed to be the first day of a trial last month.
Today (Tuesday) he was sentenced to nine months in a young offenders institute.
A packed courtroom at Northampton Crown Court heard the devastating sequence of events that led to Meredita's death.
Plimmer, of Keats Way in Rushden, had been at McDonald's in Orion Way earlier that evening with the schoolgirl - whom he knew through friends - and two others, a teenage boy and teenage girl.
They saw an orange sports car and, after an exchange about how nice they thought it was, decided to follow it.
They left the fast food chain and drove through Pytchley towards Orlingbury when they met a sweeping right-hand bend in the dark.
Plimmer - who had only held a full driving licence for 14 weeks - lost control and careered into the tree.
Meredita, an aspiring law student taking her A-Levels at Bishop Stopford School, suffered severe head injuries and died at the scene.
Neither she or the other teenage girl, who were both sitting in the back, were wearing seatbelts. The other teenage girl suffered numerous fractures with the teenage male passenger suffering serious facial injuries.
Prosecuting, Gareth Weetman said the driver of the orange sports car remembered pulling away from them.
He said: "He felt that the driver was trying to keep up with them.
"He remembers looking back and seeing the car's lights coming over the brow of the hill but then he saw the lights had gone.
"He turned around and saw the car had been in a collision with a tree."
As people helped Plimmer was heard to say: "What happened mate? The car just went."
The Corsa was fitted with a black box and the last recorded speed was 63mph.
Forensic collision investigator Jon Hoddle said the maximum safe speed for the bend was 47mph.
Mr Weetman added: "He was an inexperienced driver which contributed significantly to the collision occurring."
Mr Hoddle said there was no evidence of racing.
Plimmer, who wept in the dock as details of the incident were read out in court, was later arrested and gave no comment answers in police interviews.
Mitigating, Derek Johashen said he had always accepted responsibility and had only denied the offence earlier this year because of conflicting advice. He said he had put his efforts since the crash into Meredita's family and not himself.
Since the crash Plimmer has attended a meeting with Meredita's mother.
Mr Weetman said the teenage girl's mother, who attended court to hear Plimmer's fate, could see the regret on his face but that he had "ruined the lives of so many people".
Meredita, who was originally from Lithuania, was described as her mother's "beautiful princess and ray of sunshine".
She was a keen swimmer and had a 100 per cent attendance record at school, attending even when she was sick.
Her mother said: "There is not a single second I do not think about her."
Mr Weetman said Meredita's death had torn her mother apart.
He said: "She does not live, she exists...she will never be able to let Meredita go."
Plimmer, who had held a lifelong ambition to be a police officer, was described as showing "great remorse" by his barrister.
Mr Johashen said he had "paid badly for his mistake".
He said: "If he could turn back time and swap places he would happily do so.
He added that if Plimmer had known his two rear seat passengers were not wearing seatbelts he would have assisted them.
Sentencing, judge Adrienne Lucking said no sentence would heal the grief suffered by Meredita's family.
She said: "They are heartbroken. A young life was cut short in these terrible circumstances."
But she said Plimmer was responsible and that his actions merited a custodial sentence.
She added: "Your driving fell not far short of dangerous driving."
Plimmer wiped away tears as he was sentenced to nine months in a young offenders institute. He will serve half in custody and the remainder on licence.
He will be banned from driving for two years and made to re-take his test.