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Teen’s ‘catastrophically bad decision’ led to head-on crash with lorry

PUBLISHED: 17:53 15 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:12 18 October 2020

Damage resulting from the collision caused by Jessica Debenham  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Damage resulting from the collision caused by Jessica Debenham Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Suffolk Constabulary

A teenager has avoided being locked up for causing a crash resulting from her ‘catastrophic’ decision to overtake traffic on a country road.

Damage resulting from the collision caused by Jessica Debenham  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYDamage resulting from the collision caused by Jessica Debenham Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

One witness assumed Jessica Debenham must have been killed in a head-on collision between her Volkswagen Golf and an Adnams brewery lorry earlier this year.

Debenham, of Darby Road, Beccles, was handed a suspended custodial sentence and ordered to carry out unpaid work at Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday.

The 19-year-old had earlier admitted driving dangerously, on her way to work as a community carer, at 6.40am on January 29.

Another driver had been travelling at 40mph behind a Co-op lorry, on the A145 at Brampton, when her vehicle “broke off about two or three car lengths behind” and crossed solid white lines to overtake at speed.

Prosecutor Simon Gladwell said Debenham then tried to overtake the Co-op lorry but collided with another truck travelling in the opposite direction.

“Fortunately, the Co-op lorry braked. Otherwise, it could have been a lot worse,” he added.

The impact caused the Adnams lorry to turn into the side of the Co-op lorry and collide with the front of the following car.

The uninjured car driver forced open the door of the VW Golf to be met by “deafeningly loud music” and Debenham unconscious at the wheel.

The driver of the Adnams lorry suffered spinal ligament damage and whiplash, while his passenger was left with damaged neck, back and shoulder muscles.

Steven Dyble, mitigating, said Debenham had admitted from the outset that her driving fell well below the expected standard, adding: “It was a catastrophically bad decision to overtake at that location.”

Judge Rupert Overbury told Debenham: “Why you were overtaking on double white lines, on a bend, may have been down to immaturity, inexperience, or wanting to get to work quickly. Whatever the reason, it was a catastrophically bad decision.”

Judge Overbury said the collision must have been terrifying for those involved, adding: “Even more terrifying, would have been seeing you unconscious and thinking you were dead.”

Debenham was handed four months’ detention, suspended for 18 months, with 120 hours of unpaid work. She was also banned from driving for 18 months.


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