Police in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge

The husband of a cyclist who was killed by a speeding driver near Burnham-On-Sea has this week said ‘the justice system has let my wife down’ after the motorist was given a prison sentence of 12 months, suspended for two years.

The driver was sentenced at Taunton Crown Court on Thursday (October 21st) for causing a crash on the B3139 Mark Road, near Blackford that killed a cyclist just yards from her home.

Victoria Hamer was at the wheel of a red Volkswagen Polo on September 17th, 2020 when she collided with a bicycle being ridden by 57-year-old Lorraine Barrow. The collision happened at about 6.20pm, as Burnham-On-Sea.com reported at the time.

Hamer, 26, said she did not see Lorraine or the bike due to the sun being too low. Hamer was travelling at a minimum speed of 44mph at the time of collision; the speed limit in that area is 30mph.

Lorraine suffered significant head injuries in the collision and tragically died at the scene. Her death came just three days after she celebrated her 35th wedding anniversary with her husband Chris Barrow.

Police have released this CCTV footage of the moments before collision below.

In a victim personal statement read out to the court, husband Chris Barrow says: “We were a couple who grew closer and closer together, very rarely doing anything apart. I really did win the marriage lottery.”

He described how difficult it is to live so close to the spot where Lorraine died, but told Hamer she had “taken away my wife, my future, my life and I refuse to let you take away my home.”

He added: “They say there is someone for everyone. I was lucky enough to find my someone, spending more than half my life with her. She has unnecessarily been taken away, arguably 15 to 20 years too early.”

“You (Hamer) have not only taken the life of my beloved Lorraine, but you changed my life, my future and my personality. I don’t just miss Lorraine – I pine for her every minute of every day. You have not broken my heart; you have ripped it out. I am a shell of the person I was before.”

Pictured: 57-year-old Lorraine Barrow died in the collision 

Their daughter, Abi Thierens, in her statement to the court described her mother as the ‘glue’ at the centre of their family and said she continues to have nightmares about what happened.

She said: “(Hamer) not only ripped my mum’s life away, she destroyed my dad’s, broke my nan’s, crushed mine, my son’s and altered many more. My life changed for the worse that day, forever.”

“My dad is not the same man he was… He and mum were joined at the hip; they loved each other so deeply. My mum’s eyes would sparkle when he came through the door and the smile took over her face; now there is no sparkle, there is no smile, there is no her.”

In the victim personal statement prepared by Lorraine’s son Joe Barrow, he said she ‘didn’t have a bad bone in her body’ and that he doesn’t believe he’ll ever be able to forgive Hamer for what she did.

The Barrow family have been supported by a specially trained officer since the incident 13 months ago.

Motorist sentenced to 12 months

Hamer, of Sandpiper Close, Taunton, pleaded guilty to death by dangerous driving and was sentenced at Taunton Crown Court on Thursday 21st October.

Judge Paul Cook handed Hamer a prison sentence of 12 months, suspended for two years. He handed her a six-month curfew and ordered her to carry out 200 hours community service. Hamer also received a 30-month driving disqualification, after which she will need to pass an advanced driving re-test before being able to get behind the wheel again.

Judge Cook said: “This is the most saddening of cases. The harm could not have been greater.”

“You (Hamer) were well over the speed limit and you were driving into blinding sunlight. You were unable to see ahead of you, your proper reaction should have been to slow down – this was short-lived, dangerous driving.”

He said in making his sentencing decision he had taken into account Hamer’s early guilty plea, remorse and assistance she gave at the scene.

Officer in the case, Dai Nicholas, added: “Lorraine’s family have endured a huge amount of pain and I’d like to pay tribute to their courage throughout the legal process.”

“Although Hamer’s sentencing sees the court proceedings conclude, the agony and hurt they are feeling does not simply end with it. Our sympathies are with them and we continue to support them at this time.”

“Victoria Hamer will wake up every day for the rest of her life knowing her reckless actions killed an innocent and beloved woman.”

“I hope all motorists take heed of this tragic tale and recognise the importance of adhering to road safety measures and speed limits because failure to do so all too often has fatal consequences and rips people’s lives apart.”

Chris Barrow’s statement after sentencing

“It has taken us 13 months to get to today’s hearing, but there is no sentence that the court could have imposed on Victoria Hamer that will ever compensate for the unnecessary, avoidable killing of Lorraine. It certainly does not bring closure as my sentence is life without Lorraine. Closure, for me, will be when my ashes join Lorraine’s.”

“The justice system is not just about justice for the victim, which will never be enough, but also about setting a deterrent for others. This sentence does neither. After all the hard work done by the police, the justice system has let my beloved Lorraine down.”

“Victoria Hamer will serve her sentence and most likely go on to live a normal life which, in all probability, will extend beyond Lorraine’s 57 years. Whilst Ms Hamer did plead guilty this was done in the face of overwhelming evidence and in the knowledge that by pleading guilty her sentence would be reduced.”

“From our kitchen window I can view the exact stretch of road that the car travelled on its way to killing Lorraine. I can watch as the police, using their speed guns, attempt to catch drivers exceeding the limit thereby breaking the law.”

“Why does society in general think that speeding is a low-level crime? It is not. The affect it has on generations of families, in our case four generations, is devastating, shattering and crushing. We do not have a God given right to drive a vehicle how we want and without due consideration to other road users. Drivers have a duty of care. Our attitude to speed and how we control it is, quite frankly, ridiculous.”

“Unlike those that carry a knife, which is unlawful in itself, road crime death, is not classed as homicide. Why is this? We have gone too far in protecting the rights of the perpetrator losing sight of the rights of the victim. Lorraine was doing everything right. Her road positioning was correct, her signal was clear, she was wearing light blue jeans, cycling jacket with reflective piping, high-visibility vest, and a helmet with rear facing light clearly visible against the green and brown hedge row.”

“I am proud, as was Lorraine, that we live in a just society however the scales of justice, in our opinion, have become unbalanced. In court we were not allowed to wear a 75mm badge that has a picture of Lorraine because it personalises the issue. What is it if it is not personal? They tip too far in favour of the perpetrator. Those that break the law are being able to conduct a normal life for months, if not years, while we have had to wait and suffer the anguish and mental anxiety of not knowing what, if any, justice will be obtained for our loved one.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the police team for all their efforts performed in very difficult circumstances, and by that I mean budget and personnel cuts. These problems are, and other issues, are identified in a report produced in May 2020 by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).”

“Lorraine, I miss you more today than yesterday and tomorrow I will miss you more than today. You are the woman that made me. Put simply, I am who I am because of you.”

 

 
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