Devon

Torquay driver Ashley Millar sentenced for girlfriend death

A Devon teenager whose girlfriend died when he lost control of the car they were in has been given a 10-month suspended sentence.

Ashley Millar, 19, of Maidenway Road, Paignton, admitted causing death by careless driving in December 2010.

Exeter Crown Court heard he had been driving at up to 50mph in a 30mph zone in wet conditions on Torquay's A3022.

The family of Laura Searson, 19, who died when she was thrown from the car, called the suspended term "disgusting".

Miss Searson, who was the front-seat passenger, died after the car hit a sign.

A previous prosecutor had said the car had "cracked like an egg".

'Catastrophic' impact

Judge Nicolas Gerasimidis said Millar had been driving too fast for the wet road conditions and had been "using the cats eyes to guide him around the bend".

Prosecutor Nigel Wraith said the impact was "catastrophic" with the car being split in two and the victim's seat belt torn in half.

The court heard Millar had been driving for 14 months and had a clean licence.

He had been driving a Citroen Saxo, which was registered to his father.

The judge said Millar was a "thoroughly decent man who had made a terrible mistake".

He jailed Millar for 10 months, suspended for two years, and banned him from driving for three years.

Millar was ordered to take an extended driving test and told to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

The judge told Millar: "You will have to live the rest of your life knowing that your girlfriend lost her life as a result of your actions, which were not deliberate but careless."

The judge said he was taking a lenient course of action and accepted that the victim's family would be upset by it.

After the case, Miss Searson's mother said: "The sentence is disgusting. It is not proper justice."

Miss Searson's uncle, Chris Searson, added: "They made out in court that they had been together for years - they had only been together for six weeks.

"If someone came into court for punching someone else they might get two years. He has killed someone and he had walked out of here."

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