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Death crash driver’s appeal rejected
9:00am Saturday 5th October 2013 in News
THE wife of a convicted drugs smuggler, jailed for killing a Wootton Bassett teacher in an alcohol-fuelled car crash, has failed to convince top judges her prison sentence is too long.
Paula Barnes, 45, was twice the drink-drive limit and speeding when she crashed into 49-year-old mum-of-two Diane Wright’s BMW in Baydon Road, near Wanborough, in September 2010.
The sheep farmer, of Aldbourne Road, Baydon, was seriously injured, but recovered and, despite having had her passport taken away from her, fled to the Netherlands to avoid justice.
It took 18 months to bring her back and, in February, she was jailed for eight years and five months at Swindon Crown Court for causing death by dangerous driving and skipping bail.
Yesterday, she appealed against the length of her sentence, but saw her case kicked out of court by three of the country’s top judges, Lord Justice Davis, Mr Justice Spencer and Judge Peter Rook QC.
Giving judgment, Lord Justice Davis said Barnes’ actions had robbed Mrs Wright’s family of a well-loved person and that she had then exacerbated their grief by going on the run.
“She will have to live for the rest of her life knowing that, by her actions, she has forever taken away a loving wife and mother, daughter and sister from her family and taken from society a valued and responsible citizen,” he said.
Mrs Wright was driving home from her school, where she was a special needs teacher, when Barnes smashed into her car, killing her ‘mercifully instantaneously’, the appeal judge said.
Witnesses said Barnes had been driving at grossly excessive speeds, often on the wrong side of the road, in the minutes leading up to the crash.
Experts later estimated she was more than two times the drink-drive limit at the time. She admitted drinking heavily after her husband got into trouble for drugs offences.
Charged with death by dangerous driving, Barnes, whose husband is serving a sentence for drug smuggling, fled to Holland.
When eventually tracked down, she denied her identity and refused to tell police how she had got there and what she had been doing in her 18 months at large.
But her lawyers argued that the resulting sentence, handed down by Swindon judge Euan Ambrose, was too tough. Eight years was too long for the death, while to add five months for breaching bail made it even more so.
Rejecting the appeal, Lord Justice Davis continued: “This was an appalling case of causing death by dangerous driving.”