A teenager is today behind bars after causing the death of a respected North East pensioner by dangerous driving.
Daniel Brownlee, of Preston Terrace in West Allotment, North Tyneside, admitted causing the death of 66-year-old Roy Toogood in February this year.
Newcastle Crown Court yesterday heard how the 19-year-old’s mobile phone, seized by police when he was arrested, showed a video of him accelerating up to 100mph.
Mr Toogood, whose family was in the public gallery, tried desperately to get out of the way of Brownlee as he drove the wrong way around a pedestrian island in his Vauxhall Corsa on the A1058 Beach Road, in North Shields.
The pensioner, who received an MBE in the 2001 New Year’s Honours List for his work with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, was taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary for treatment, but later died of his injuries.
A tracker device fitted to the vehicle showed the teenager, who was 18 at the time of offence, reached speeds of 104mph in his journey.
He also ignored repeated warnings from his insurer, the Co-operative Group, about his speeding.
In a statement read out in court, Dorothy Toogood, Roy’s wife, said: “I can’t stop my mind from replaying all the tragic events. For the first time in my life I need medication for anxiety. I can’t switch my mind off. I have no peace of mind at all and I am worried about everything.
“When I hear emergency sirens it sends me cold with fear. I was horrified to find the person still driving after the incident.
“I have such a fear of Beach Road, which is a five minute walk from where I live. I couldn’t go back there.”
She added: “Each time I think of him - it’s like losing him all over again.”
Brownlee, represented by Graeme Cook, was issued with a warning in November 2012 and was written to again by his insurance company in December about his speeding and was forced to pay £37.43 on two separate occasions or poor driving.
Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, said: “The defendant’s actions were irrational and dangerous.”
Judge John Evans sentenced him to six years in a young offender’s institute and he was banned for driving for six years. He will also be made to retake an extended driving test. He said: “I have read in this case statements from members of Mr Toogood’s family and they make heartbreaking reading.
“You have blighted their lives - particularly that of the widow. No sentence that I can pass will begin to compensate them for their loss. Nothing can bring Mr Toogood back.
“You still have your life. You will have to live with it knowing you killed somebody, needlessly and selfishly. It will haunt you for the rest of your life.”
Mr Cook said Browlee was genuinely remorseful and had completed an apprenticeship as a roofer.
Mr Toogood worked at the Inland Revenue’s international services department in Longbenton, for many years.
Tribute paid to Roy Toogood
In a statement after the sentence, Roy’s wife Dorothy said: “On February 18 2013, my world as I knew it was taken from me in the most horrific way imaginable. Roy left the house that morning to go to the post office, and never came home.
“I didn’t get the opportunity to say a final goodbye to my husband, my soul mate and the brilliant father of our children.
“He was the man I was meant to grow old with. Each day is like a nightmare without the one person who always made the world a better place.
“Roy’s death will affect this family for ever. Our lives have been torn apart by his tragic death. He was always there for us, to help and to listen. He was a father all our children were very proud of. He had a special place in his heart for each of his grandchildren and was always there to help with their homework or play football in the garden.
“Now the person who made our home feel beautiful and safe is with us no more.
“At Roy’s funeral service there were 300 people there to mourn and to celebrate the life of this very special person.
“He was awarded an MBE for his services with the HMRC and was respected and valued and liked by all who knew him. We were so proud of all his achievements.
“The light has gone from our lives. He would be horrified to know the pain we are suffering each and every day. To conclude I would like to mention the support and guidance from the whole police team, whose ongoing personal contact has been exemplary.
“Myself and my family would not have been able to function through this tragic time without their support.
“Especially PC Jayne Sanderson and PC Jason Wright, who have become so much more than Family Liaison Officers, we now class them as family friends.”