Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Rachel Titley death: Yarmouth text message driver jailed

Craig Ecclestone-Todd Image copyright Police
Image caption Police said Ecclestone-Todd had also drunk "at least three to four pints of lager"

A driver who was distracted by his mobile phone before a head-on crash which killed a woman has been jailed for six years.

Craig Ecclestone-Todd had also been drinking when he received a text from his wife on the night of 11 October, 2013, Portsmouth Crown Court heard.

He crashed head-on into a car killing Rachel Titley, 28, on the A3054 at Bouldnor near Yarmouth, Isle of Wight.

Ecclestone-Todd was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

The 27-year-old, from Clifford Street, Newport, had spent the evening with friends at a pub and received the message during the drive home.

Image copyright Police
Image caption Rachel Titley's family said she was "unique" and "special in every way"
Image copyright Police
Image caption Craig Ecclestone-Todd's red Citroen Xsara crossed into the oncoming lane
Image copyright Police
Image caption Police released this image of Rachel Titley's blue Daihatsu Cuore

Lindsay Pennell, senior crown prosecutor, said: "...either reading or replying to this text message, [he] was so distracted that he failed to negotiate a left-hand bend, crossing the central white line into the path of Miss Titley's oncoming car.

Speaking after the sentencing, she said: "[The jury] was satisfied that Mr Ecclestone-Todd was using his mobile phone to read or send a text message at the time of the collision and that in doing so his driving fell far below what was expected of a competent and careful driver and was dangerous."

Police were unable to take a breath test at the scene but said Ecclestone-Todd had drunk "at least three to four pints of lager".

A blood test taken several hours later showed he was marginally under the limit but officers maintain he would have been over the drink-drive limit at the time of the crash.

Speaking outside court, Miss Titley's father John said: "We don't think it's enough, it never would have been enough.

"Even if he got the rest of his life it hasn't brought Rachel back.

"At least we feel that justice has been done."

At the time of her death, the family of solicitor's clerk Miss Titley, from Totland, said she was "unique" and "special in every way".

In a statement, they added she was "loved by everyone whose life she touched".

Eccleston-Todd was also disqualified from driving for eight years after which time he will have to complete an extended re-test.

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