Grieving husband speaks of pride in his daughters

The family and friends of Diane Wright look on as her Husband David Wright reads a statement to the press after today's court case

Diane Wright, second from the right, with members of her family

Paula Barnes was speeding at up to 100mph while two-and-a-half times the legal drink drive limit at the time of the crash that killed Diane Wright

First published in News
Last updated

The husband of a woman killed by a speeding drink driver has told of how nothing in his 35-year police career had prepared him for coping with the aftermath of his wife's death.

David Wright said Paula Barnes had robbed him of the love of his life when she crashed head-on into his wife Diane's car in September 2010.

She was jailed for more than eight years after Swindon Crown Court heard how she was speeding at up to 100mph while two-and-a-half times the legal drink drive limit at Foxhill in Baydon, near Marlborough.

In an emotionally-charged three page victim impact statement presented to the judge at Swindon Crown, Mr Wright wrote of his loss.

"Diane was a fantastic wife, friend, mother and work colleague. There is not a day goes by without us all thinking of her and no words can express just how much we miss her, other than to say that our lives have been utterly devastated and that we miss her terribly," he wrote.

"Diane left for work and never came back. She was on her way home from work to be with her family.

"She never completed this journey owing to Paula Barnes being drunk and driving erratically on the wrong side of the road in a powerful car.

"She drove straight into my wife and killed her instantly. At the same time she killed the hopes and dreams of so many other people."

Mr Wright is an officer with the Met Police and was married for 23 years and together they had two daughters Tracey and Lucy.

"I have spent 35 years dealing with serious and at times tragic incidents. As a consequence I thought myself to be fairly robust," he wrote.

"However, I have had take a considerable amount of time off sick and go for counselling as a direct result of this matter.

"My confidence has been affected but I have had to remain strong for the sake of our daughters.

"Despite this, inside I have been falling apart, so much so that I have had to ask for help.

"We were a strong close family until the day Paula Barnes tore this family apart killing Diane.

"She then compounded matters by prolonging our agony and skipping bail to live abroad.

"This showed her absolute disdain for us, her failure to accept responsibility and her total lack of remorse.

"Our daughter Lucy was unfortunate to come across the incident and was told by police at the scene that her mum was dead.

"She will have to live with the sight of the mangled wreckage where her mother was killed for the rest of her life.

"I cannot imagine how it must have felt to have to look on helplessly as the emergency services did all they could.

"Standing there at side of road with no-one to turn and no shoulder to cry on. It must have been awful."

Mr Wright spoke of how his daughters how struggled with their studies following the death of their mother.

At the time Tracey was at Plymouth University studying illustration while Lucy was half-way through her A-levels.

Tracey has since graduated with first class honours while Lucy has now gone to the same university to study geography.

"The fact that they have both gone on to do so well in their lives is testimony to their characters," he wrote.

"I am so proud of them both and I know that Diane would be too."

Mr Wright continued: "From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed there is a gaping whole in my life.

"I often wake up in my sleep thinking that she is still alive only to turn over in the realisation that she is no longer with me. I miss her and love her dearly.

"Paula Barnes's actions has taken away much of my families future. I know that Diane really looking forward to seeing both Tracey and Lucy graduate from university.

"She often talked about them both getting married and settling down.

Sadly now my girls will not have the support of their mother at any future events.

"As for me, I do not know what the future holds. I intend to stay with the Metropolitan Police at least until Lucy has finished her degree.

"Diane and I were looking forward to both retiring and embarking on a cruise or a bit of travelling.

"None of our dreams or aspirations are now possible due to a stupid, drunken, inconsiderate woman.

"I don't think that she will ever learn the extent of what she has done and the affect she has had on so many people - many of whom are in court today.

"Paula Barnes killed a wonderful wife and a wonderful mother. I want her to know that, I want her to know that for the rest of her life."

Comments (24)

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6:21pm Tue 26 Feb 13

jezercalne says...

I'm glad this scumbag has been jailed. But is her sentence long enough?
I'm glad this scumbag has been jailed. But is her sentence long enough? jezercalne
  • Score: 0

7:00pm Tue 26 Feb 13

TinkeyWinkey says...

Such a tragic loss of a life.

Sentance for Paula Barnes - not long enough for depriving a husband of his wife and daughters of their mother.

Drink-drivers are the scum of the earth
Such a tragic loss of a life. Sentance for Paula Barnes - not long enough for depriving a husband of his wife and daughters of their mother. Drink-drivers are the scum of the earth TinkeyWinkey
  • Score: 0

7:09pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Localboy86 says...

8 and a half years is a pretty hefty sentance, people do less for murder.
8 and a half years is a pretty hefty sentance, people do less for murder. Localboy86
  • Score: 0

7:21pm Tue 26 Feb 13

jezercalne says...

Isn't this murder?
Isn't this murder? jezercalne
  • Score: 0

7:55pm Tue 26 Feb 13

wiltshireboy8121 says...

Her old man was jailed for being a drug smuggler she skipped bail so eight years seems about right
Her old man was jailed for being a drug smuggler she skipped bail so eight years seems about right wiltshireboy8121
  • Score: 0

8:03pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Ifyoudontlikeswindon-move! says...

She was drunk and driving at 100mph she then fled the country to avoid trial
and continued to live a luxury life - enjoying her hobby of horse riding which is how they found her.
She showed no remorse
She was drunk and driving at 100mph she then fled the country to avoid trial and continued to live a luxury life - enjoying her hobby of horse riding which is how they found her. She showed no remorse Ifyoudontlikeswindon-move!
  • Score: 0

8:11pm Tue 26 Feb 13

dukeofM4 says...

What stands out in this case is being 2 1/2 times over the limit and driving 100MPH on some sort of B type of road.

Her behaviour was undoubtedly reckless.

However I don't know if anyone would agree or disagree, but I get some vibes that there is a shift in the attitudes towards drink driving where increasingly people are inclined the risk to drive.

The campaigns of the 80s to 00s seems to have faded somewhat.

If road deaths due to drink driving are down, it may have more to do with better safety equipment and better medical treatment not less drink driving.
What stands out in this case is being 2 1/2 times over the limit and driving 100MPH on some sort of B type of road. Her behaviour was undoubtedly reckless. However I don't know if anyone would agree or disagree, but I get some vibes that there is a shift in the attitudes towards drink driving where increasingly people are inclined the risk to drive. The campaigns of the 80s to 00s seems to have faded somewhat. If road deaths due to drink driving are down, it may have more to do with better safety equipment and better medical treatment not less drink driving. dukeofM4
  • Score: 0

9:30pm Tue 26 Feb 13

jezercalne says...

I think that most people have got the message, but there is a minority that has failed to do so. Surely the alcohol limit should be reduced, as is the case in many EU countries. Those caught over the limit should be locked up for a very long time, and of course banned from driving for life.
I think that most people have got the message, but there is a minority that has failed to do so. Surely the alcohol limit should be reduced, as is the case in many EU countries. Those caught over the limit should be locked up for a very long time, and of course banned from driving for life. jezercalne
  • Score: 0

9:44pm Tue 26 Feb 13

house on the hill says...

Will be out in just over 4 then and presumably back driving soon after that. I wonder how the posters would feel if it was there wife and in 5 years time this woman drove by and stuck 2 fingers up, would you feel justice had been done???? I dont think so, typical double standards of todays world, if it isnt happening to you then its ok. what a horrendous message that sends to the hundreds of thousands who drink and drive and think they are above the law.
Will be out in just over 4 then and presumably back driving soon after that. I wonder how the posters would feel if it was there wife and in 5 years time this woman drove by and stuck 2 fingers up, would you feel justice had been done???? I dont think so, typical double standards of todays world, if it isnt happening to you then its ok. what a horrendous message that sends to the hundreds of thousands who drink and drive and think they are above the law. house on the hill
  • Score: 0

10:11pm Tue 26 Feb 13

jax66 says...

My thoughts and best wishes are going to this family. I hope they find a way to get through their loss.
My thoughts and best wishes are going to this family. I hope they find a way to get through their loss. jax66
  • Score: 0

10:42pm Tue 26 Feb 13

notscot says...

No idea why there is a set drink drive limit.
Should be zero tolerance - if you're driving then you don't drink.
No idea why there is a set drink drive limit. Should be zero tolerance - if you're driving then you don't drink. notscot
  • Score: 0

11:21pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Localboy86 says...

house on the hill wrote:
Will be out in just over 4 then and presumably back driving soon after that. I wonder how the posters would feel if it was there wife and in 5 years time this woman drove by and stuck 2 fingers up, would you feel justice had been done???? I dont think so, typical double standards of todays world, if it isnt happening to you then its ok. what a horrendous message that sends to the hundreds of thousands who drink and drive and think they are above the law.
I agree. However in view of most of the sentances you see handed out to people who kill from behind the wheel, this one seems u unuseual?
[quote][p][bold]house on the hill[/bold] wrote: Will be out in just over 4 then and presumably back driving soon after that. I wonder how the posters would feel if it was there wife and in 5 years time this woman drove by and stuck 2 fingers up, would you feel justice had been done???? I dont think so, typical double standards of todays world, if it isnt happening to you then its ok. what a horrendous message that sends to the hundreds of thousands who drink and drive and think they are above the law.[/p][/quote]I agree. However in view of most of the sentances you see handed out to people who kill from behind the wheel, this one seems u unuseual? Localboy86
  • Score: 0

11:29pm Tue 26 Feb 13

wondering why says...

So sad for the family, is 8 years enough, have the sentencing guidelines been applied correctly? Will the perpetrator show any remorse?
So sad for the family, is 8 years enough, have the sentencing guidelines been applied correctly? Will the perpetrator show any remorse? wondering why
  • Score: 0

11:33pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Localboy86 says...

Luke McCormack for example? He was playing football again within how long?
Luke McCormack for example? He was playing football again within how long? Localboy86
  • Score: 0

3:29am Wed 27 Feb 13

well oill beef hooked says...

She deserves everything she gets.
She deserves everything she gets. well oill beef hooked
  • Score: 0

7:21am Wed 27 Feb 13

RichardR1 says...

Interesting comments. I am not going to specifically comment on the sentence itself in relation to the drink driving. However how many making comments are either anti alcohol or hypocrites who perhaps go down the pub in the evening then get up early the next morning trusting to luck they either won't be stopped or are not still legally drunk.

Also as has been said there will always be those who will D&D come what may so all reducing the limit will do is catch more people.

I believe the science has shown that the level used in the UK has been shown to be a level below which ability is not significantly or dangerously impaired.

Having a loved one killed will always bring out raw emotions, it does seem though the lady could well have been sentenced with more to do with other activities, if one compares similar incidents and sentencing.
Interesting comments. I am not going to specifically comment on the sentence itself in relation to the drink driving. However how many making comments are either anti alcohol or hypocrites who perhaps go down the pub in the evening then get up early the next morning trusting to luck they either won't be stopped or are not still legally drunk. Also as has been said there will always be those who will D&D come what may so all reducing the limit will do is catch more people. I believe the science has shown that the level used in the UK has been shown to be a level below which ability is not significantly or dangerously impaired. Having a loved one killed will always bring out raw emotions, it does seem though the lady could well have been sentenced with more to do with other activities, if one compares similar incidents and sentencing. RichardR1
  • Score: 0

8:23am Wed 27 Feb 13

house on the hill says...

"""RichardR1 says...
7:21am Wed 27 Feb 13

Interesting comments. I am not going to specifically comment on the sentence itself in relation to the drink driving. However how many making comments are either anti alcohol or hypocrites who perhaps go down the pub in the evening then get up early the next morning trusting to luck they either won't be stopped or are not still legally drunk.

Also as has been said there will always be those who will D&D come what may so all reducing the limit will do is catch more people.

I believe the science has shown that the level used in the UK has been shown to be a level below which ability is not significantly or dangerously impaired.

Having a loved one killed will always bring out raw emotions, it does seem though the lady could well have been sentenced with more to do with other activities, if one compares similar incidents and sentencing.”"""

Typical Bollux from the self imposed god of the adver. You might find a lot of those who are anti alcohol are that way because if the disgusting way victims and thier families are treated in this sort of incident. Personally I dont drink but I am not anti alcohol I am anti alcohol abuse and the pathetic sentences handed out in the name of justice. Maybe if it was your wife and this woman came into your pub in 5 years time drinking away as if nothing had happened even your stone heart may think differently.

Whether it is a loved one killed or not, the ludicrous notion that the guilty should be given an expensive tax payer funded second chance that is not afforded the innocent victim is not justice, it is an insult to every man woman and child that life is cheap and meaningless. Maybe you would like to go face to face with the husband with your views? I bet not!
"""RichardR1 says... 7:21am Wed 27 Feb 13 Interesting comments. I am not going to specifically comment on the sentence itself in relation to the drink driving. However how many making comments are either anti alcohol or hypocrites who perhaps go down the pub in the evening then get up early the next morning trusting to luck they either won't be stopped or are not still legally drunk. Also as has been said there will always be those who will D&D come what may so all reducing the limit will do is catch more people. I believe the science has shown that the level used in the UK has been shown to be a level below which ability is not significantly or dangerously impaired. Having a loved one killed will always bring out raw emotions, it does seem though the lady could well have been sentenced with more to do with other activities, if one compares similar incidents and sentencing.”""" Typical Bollux from the self imposed god of the adver. You might find a lot of those who are anti alcohol are that way because if the disgusting way victims and thier families are treated in this sort of incident. Personally I dont drink but I am not anti alcohol I am anti alcohol abuse and the pathetic sentences handed out in the name of justice. Maybe if it was your wife and this woman came into your pub in 5 years time drinking away as if nothing had happened even your stone heart may think differently. Whether it is a loved one killed or not, the ludicrous notion that the guilty should be given an expensive tax payer funded second chance that is not afforded the innocent victim is not justice, it is an insult to every man woman and child that life is cheap and meaningless. Maybe you would like to go face to face with the husband with your views? I bet not! house on the hill
  • Score: 0

8:47am Wed 27 Feb 13

thenoose says...

The law in this country needs changing. If you shoot someone dead you will get over 30yrs, if you stab them dead you will get 15-20yrs, yet if you drink and kill someone with a car you get 6-8yrs. Plus you will only do half of that.

If you drink and drive, it is premeditated and should at least be manslaughter with the maximum sentence of life inside.
The law in this country needs changing. If you shoot someone dead you will get over 30yrs, if you stab them dead you will get 15-20yrs, yet if you drink and kill someone with a car you get 6-8yrs. Plus you will only do half of that. If you drink and drive, it is premeditated and should at least be manslaughter with the maximum sentence of life inside. thenoose
  • Score: 0

12:42pm Wed 27 Feb 13

Highworth Lad says...

I didn’t know the family; my heart goes out to them. I hope Barnes has a miserable soulless life. She should have received more than 8 years, however forever will still not of been long enough. It should now be classed Culpable homicide like in Scotland

Culpable homicide is committed where the accused has caused loss of life through wrongful conduct, but where there was no intention to kill. It is an offence under common law and is roughly equivalent to the offence of manslaughter in English law.

There are other various countries that have it too, Like south Africa
I didn’t know the family; my heart goes out to them. I hope Barnes has a miserable soulless life. She should have received more than 8 years, however forever will still not of been long enough. It should now be classed Culpable homicide like in Scotland Culpable homicide is committed where the accused has caused loss of life through wrongful conduct, but where there was no intention to kill. It is an offence under common law and is roughly equivalent to the offence of manslaughter in English law. There are other various countries that have it too, Like south Africa Highworth Lad
  • Score: 0

1:48pm Wed 27 Feb 13

lordbuckethead says...

jezercalne wrote:
Isn't this murder?
No - it has to be deliberate and premeditated.

Yes it was reckless, yes she is scum, and yes a bullet is too good for her (imho) - but that's what the law says.
[quote][p][bold]jezercalne[/bold] wrote: Isn't this murder?[/p][/quote]No - it has to be deliberate and premeditated. Yes it was reckless, yes she is scum, and yes a bullet is too good for her (imho) - but that's what the law says. lordbuckethead
  • Score: 0

5:07pm Wed 27 Feb 13

Tim Newroman says...

thenoose wrote:
The law in this country needs changing. If you shoot someone dead you will get over 30yrs, if you stab them dead you will get 15-20yrs, yet if you drink and kill someone with a car you get 6-8yrs. Plus you will only do half of that.

If you drink and drive, it is premeditated and should at least be manslaughter with the maximum sentence of life inside.
The sentence is too lenient, but - sadly - it's actually quite lengthy when compared to those handed down for similar crimes.

In fact, this sentence is lengthier than many convicts receive for manslaughter.

It says much about the horrendously lenient sentencing policies in the UK that 8 years is comparatively fairly harsh for this particular criminal.

With any luck, increased public awareness of these disgracefully lenient sentences will, eventually, lead to forced changes in the law, sentencing guidelines and the manner in which judges are allowed to interpret them. We can but hope.
[quote][p][bold]thenoose[/bold] wrote: The law in this country needs changing. If you shoot someone dead you will get over 30yrs, if you stab them dead you will get 15-20yrs, yet if you drink and kill someone with a car you get 6-8yrs. Plus you will only do half of that. If you drink and drive, it is premeditated and should at least be manslaughter with the maximum sentence of life inside.[/p][/quote]The sentence is too lenient, but - sadly - it's actually quite lengthy when compared to those handed down for similar crimes. [p] In fact, this sentence is lengthier than many convicts receive for manslaughter. [p] It says much about the horrendously lenient sentencing policies in the UK that 8 years is comparatively fairly harsh for this particular criminal. [p] With any luck, increased public awareness of these disgracefully lenient sentences will, eventually, lead to forced changes in the law, sentencing guidelines and the manner in which judges are allowed to interpret them. We can but hope. Tim Newroman
  • Score: 0

6:30pm Wed 27 Feb 13

notscot says...

Increased public awarewness versus govt. guidlines to the judiciary?
It all comes down to cost.
Is it worthwhile to prosecute?
Is it considered cost effective to imprison?
And the govt. are advising that judges consider carefully and exhaust other avenues prior to handing down custodials.
Hope, I'm afraid - is futile - this situation will only get worse.
Increased public awarewness versus govt. guidlines to the judiciary? It all comes down to cost. Is it worthwhile to prosecute? Is it considered cost effective to imprison? And the govt. are advising that judges consider carefully and exhaust other avenues prior to handing down custodials. Hope, I'm afraid - is futile - this situation will only get worse. notscot
  • Score: 0

8:14am Thu 28 Feb 13

Tim Newroman says...

notscot wrote:
Increased public awarewness versus govt. guidlines to the judiciary?
It all comes down to cost.
Is it worthwhile to prosecute?
Is it considered cost effective to imprison?
And the govt. are advising that judges consider carefully and exhaust other avenues prior to handing down custodials.
Hope, I'm afraid - is futile - this situation will only get worse.
@notscot: absolutely spot on, unfortunately.

One of the biggest failings of the coalition government has been their refusal to correct the undue leniency and poor decisions of the judiciary that began under Labour.

The failed experiment of showing leniency to criminals has cost hundreds of people their lives and resulted in literally millions of entirely preventable crimes taking place, blighting the lives of just about everyone - on some level - in this country.

And yet we're still forced to fund this nonsense, a nonsense that only a tiny minority of people still support and believe is the correct way to deal with crime and criminals.

Both Labour and the current government should have embarked on a prison building programme many years ago. It is abundantly clear that we need at least a further 50,000 to 100,000 prison spaces as a matter of urgency. That means we need around a further 50 prisons immediately. Such a programme would create a huge amount of jobs and actually save us money, as the cost of a prolific criminal outside of prison is much higher than the cost of keeping them behind bars.

The disgraceful truth is similar to the reason why so many murders are charged as manslaughter. It's easier not to build prisons and it flatters the government's/nation'
s international crime statistics to keep criminals on the streets rather than in prison, where they should be.

The authorities also like to try and have their (fictitious) cake and eat it. They tell us that 'rehabilitation' works (despite their own statistics clearly showing that it largely doesn't work at all) and yet also try and do all they can to keep criminals out of prison - which is the only place their failed 'rehabilitation' drivel takes place.

The coalition have failed on law and order. Yet it would be simple to change all of this and move to a system that protects and supports the victims of crime and the public rather than the criminals:

Build 50,000 more prison spaces and move to a system of locally elected judges. The crime rate would plummet to within a year. Even now, only around 10% of all crime is committed by people with no previous record, so if the majority of those with multiple convictions are safely under lock and key, the crime rate would dwindle to almost nothing.

Also, under the system above, those who are out to commit crime would think twice - unlike now, where they know they have precisely nothing to fear from the police and, especially, our courtrooms.
[quote][p][bold]notscot[/bold] wrote: Increased public awarewness versus govt. guidlines to the judiciary? It all comes down to cost. Is it worthwhile to prosecute? Is it considered cost effective to imprison? And the govt. are advising that judges consider carefully and exhaust other avenues prior to handing down custodials. Hope, I'm afraid - is futile - this situation will only get worse.[/p][/quote]@notscot: absolutely spot on, unfortunately. [p] One of the biggest failings of the coalition government has been their refusal to correct the undue leniency and poor decisions of the judiciary that began under Labour. [p] The failed experiment of showing leniency to criminals has cost hundreds of people their lives and resulted in literally millions of entirely preventable crimes taking place, blighting the lives of just about everyone - on some level - in this country. [p] And yet we're still forced to fund this nonsense, a nonsense that only a tiny minority of people still support and believe is the correct way to deal with crime and criminals. [p] Both Labour and the current government should have embarked on a prison building programme many years ago. It is abundantly clear that we need at least a further 50,000 to 100,000 prison spaces as a matter of urgency. That means we need around a further 50 prisons immediately. Such a programme would create a huge amount of jobs and actually save us money, as the cost of a prolific criminal outside of prison is much higher than the cost of keeping them behind bars. [p] The disgraceful truth is similar to the reason why so many murders are charged as manslaughter. It's easier not to build prisons and it flatters the government's/nation' s international crime statistics to keep criminals on the streets rather than in prison, where they should be. [p] The authorities also like to try and have their (fictitious) cake and eat it. They tell us that 'rehabilitation' works (despite their own statistics clearly showing that it largely doesn't work at all) and yet also try and do all they can to keep criminals out of prison - which is the only place their failed 'rehabilitation' drivel takes place. [p] The coalition have failed on law and order. Yet it would be simple to change all of this and move to a system that protects and supports the victims of crime and the public rather than the criminals: [p] Build 50,000 more prison spaces and move to a system of locally elected judges. The crime rate would plummet to within a year. Even now, only around 10% of all crime is committed by people with no previous record, so if the majority of those with multiple convictions are safely under lock and key, the crime rate would dwindle to almost nothing. [p] Also, under the system above, those who are out to commit crime would think twice - unlike now, where they know they have precisely nothing to fear from the police and, especially, our courtrooms. Tim Newroman
  • Score: 0

10:17am Thu 28 Feb 13

RichardR1 says...

House I was not defending her actions in anyway merely pointing out as others have that the sentence for such a crime is normally a lot less.

As I don't have a pub she is hardly likely to come in.
House I was not defending her actions in anyway merely pointing out as others have that the sentence for such a crime is normally a lot less. As I don't have a pub she is hardly likely to come in. RichardR1
  • Score: 0

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