Woman jailed for life for causing death by dangerous driving

Woman is jailed for causing the death of a former headteacher after crashing head-on into her car while driving the wrong way down a motorway slip road

  • Ann Marie Crook, 43, drove towards oncoming traffic on the M57 in 2019
  • Her car smashed into Paula Kingdon’s Honda Jazz in her black Renault Clio
  • Ms Kingdon, who  died in the smash was described as a ‘dedicated head teacher’
  • Crook was jailed for life after admitting causing death by dangerous driving 

A woman has been jailed for causing the death of a ‘beloved’ former headteacher after crashing head-on into her car while driving the wrong way down a motorway slip road.

Ann Marie Crook, 43, turned into oncoming traffic on the M57 near Kirkby, Merseyside, in her black Renault Clio before hitting 64-year-old Paula Kingdon’s Honda Jazz.

Ms Kingdon, from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, died of her injuries after being rushed to hospital while Crook, of St Helens, was left fighting for her life after the crash.

Ann Marie Crook, 42, was jailed for life having admitting causing the death by dangerous driving of Paula Kingdon, 64 on October 31, 2019. She was also banned for driving for five years and three months at Liverpool Crown Court

Paula Kingdon, right, who was killed after her car was hit by Ann Marie Cook’s Renault Clio in October 2019, was described as a dedicated head teacher at Liverpool Crown Court

Crook, a carer, was jailed for life on Thursday four years, eight months after previously admitting causing death by dangerous driving at Liverpool Crown Court.

She was also banned from driving for five years, three months.

The horror crash happened on October 31, 2019, and saw emergency services rush to the southbound slip road of the M57 at Junction 5.

Ms Kingdon, a retired head teacher, was in the way back from a regular visit to her step-father in Liverpool when Crook ploughed into her car.

The court heard the elderly widow has ‘steeply declined physically and mentally’ since Ms Kingdon’s death.

Prosecutors said Crook drove at up to 94 mph westbound before moving into a right-turn filter lane in the run up to the crash.

Instead of turning right, witnesses watched in horror as she entered the exit slip road of the M57 in the wrong direction.

Crook was jailed for life at Liverpool Crown Court after admitting causing death by dangerous driving. She was also banned from driving for five years, three months

Drivers of vehicles travelling in the right direction flashed their lights at her and beeped their horns and several vehicles narrowly avoided a collision, including a lorry.

They spoke of Crook looking forward and driving in a determined manner as she sped from the slip road onto the main carriageway.

Crook told police she couldn’t remember anything about the collision and denied she had been trying to take her own life. 

Stephen Sharples, Ms Kingdon’s brother, said she was a ‘committed headteacher, loving auntie and a caring step-daughter to their stepfather John’.

In a statement read to the court, he said: ‘After a lifetime of devoting herself to others, Paula deserved the chance to enjoy her retirement.

‘She embraced her new life with the same energy and positivity that she had brought to her work.

‘She happily divided her time between seeing family and friends, travelling, going to the theatre, looking after John and following Liverpool FC.

‘It is heart-breaking for me that Paula had this wonderful new chapter of her life so cruelly taken away by the senseless actions of a total stranger.’

Prosecutor Keith Drummond said after the sentencing: ‘Ann Marie Crook is a woman of previous good character and had no previous driving convictions.

‘But for some reason, on the morning of 31 October 2019, she chose to get behind the wheel of her car and turn that vehicle into a killing machine.

‘It might be that she intended to kill herself – we cannot be sure.

‘But she didn’t. Her reckless and dangerous driving took the life of an innocent motorist and has left behind a tragedy of loss and pain for the family of Paula Kingdon.

‘Ann Marie Crook pleaded guilty and has accepted her part in the dreadful events of that day. But that won’t bring back Paula Kingdon. A tragic case indeed.’

Inspector Stuart McIver of Merseyside Police said: ‘This was a tragic incident and our thoughts today are very much with the family of Paula who described her as a caring auntie and devoted former head teacher of Westfield School in Chesterfield.

‘Her sudden death impacted on the whole Westfield school community and her neighbours in Meersbrook, Sheffield where Paula lived.

‘This is a tragic case where an innocent woman has unnecessarily lost her life.

‘Crook has been left in no doubt about the consequences of her actions, and I hope she will reflect on the impact this has had on the victim’s family.’

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