A woman has been jailed for causing the death of a ‘beloved’ former schoolteacher after crashing head-on into her car while driving the wrong way down a motorway.
Ann Marie Crook, 43, turned into oncoming traffic on the M57 near Kirkby, Merseyside, in her black Renault Clio before hitting 64-year-old Paula Kingdon’s Honda Jazz.
Mrs Kingdon, from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, died of her injuries after being rushed to hospital, while Crook from St Helens was left fighting for her life after the crash.
Ann Marie Crook, 42, was jailed for life after admitting to causing death by dangerous driving by Paula Kingdon, 64, on 31 October 2019. She was also banned from driving for five years and three months at Liverpool Crown Court
Paula Kingdon, right, who was killed after her car was hit by Ann Marie Cook’s Renault Clio in October 2019, was described as a dedicated head teacher at Liverpool Crown Court
Crook, a caregiver, was jailed for life on Thursday for four years, eight months after previously admitting to death by dangerous driving at Liverpool Crown Court.
She was also banned from driving for five years, three months.
The horrific accident happened on 31 October 2019, and so the emergency services rushed to the southbound slip road on the M57 at junction 5.
Mrs Kingdon, a retired schoolteacher, was on her way back from a regular visit to her stepfather in Liverpool when Crook plowed into her car.
The court heard that the elderly widow has ‘fallen sharply physically and mentally’ since Kingdon’s death.
Prosecutors said Crook was driving at up to 94 km / h westbound before driving into a right-turn filter lane in the run-up to the crash.
Instead of turning right, the witness was horrified when she entered the exit of the M57 in the wrong direction.
Crook was jailed for life in Liverpool Crown Court after admitting he caused death by dangerous driving. She was also banned from driving for five years, three months
Drivers of vehicles driving in the right direction flashed the light to her and beeped in the horns, and several vehicles narrowly avoided a collision, including a truck.
They talked about Crook looking forward and driving in a certain way as she hurried from the slip road into the main lane.
Crook told police she could not remember anything about the collision and denied she had tried to take her own life.
Stephen Sharples, Mrs Kingdon’s brother, said she was a ‘committed principal, loving aunt and a caring stepdaughter of their stepfather John’.
In a statement read to the court, he said: ‘After a lifetime of devoting himself to others, Paula deserved the chance to enjoy her retirement.
‘She embraced her new life with the same energy and positivity that she had brought to her work.
‘She happily shared her time between watching family and friends, traveling, going to the theater, looking after John and following Liverpool FC.
‘It is heartbreaking for me that Paula got this wonderful new chapter in her life so cruelly taken away by the meaningless actions of a total stranger.’
Prosecutor Keith Drummond said after the sentencing: ‘Ann Marie Crook is a woman of former good character and had no previous driving sentence.
‘But for some reason, on the morning of October 31, 2019, she chose to get behind the wheel of her car and turn that vehicle into a killing machine.
‘It could be that she intended to kill herself – we can not be sure.
‘But she did not. Her reckless and dangerous driving took the life of an innocent motorist and has left a tragedy of loss and pain for the Paula Kingdon family.
‘Ann Marie Crook pleaded guilty and has accepted her role in the horrific events at the time. But that will not bring Paula Kingdon back. Truly a tragic case. ‘
Inspector Stuart McIver of Merseyside Police said: ‘This was a tragic incident and our thoughts today are very much with the family of Paula, who described her as a caring aunt and committed former principal at Westfield School in Chesterfield.
‘Her sudden death affected the entire Westfield school community and her neighbors in Meersbrook, Sheffield, where Paula lived.
‘This is a tragic case in which an innocent woman has lost her life unnecessarily.
‘Crook has not been in doubt about the consequences of her actions, and I hope she will reflect on the impact it has had on the victim’s family.’