A careless driver who killed two girls while using a mobile phone has been put behind bars.Advertisement
Mohmed Salman Patel, 26, was jailed for six years for the deaths of Rachel Murphy, 23 and Shelby Maher, 17, after his BMW 320 SE collided with them.
Rachel and Shelby were crossing the road of Brockholes Brow when Mr Patel, who was awaiting a text message, hit them.
Rachel died at the scene and her friend Shelby was taken to hospital were she later died from her injuries.
Megan Blakely, their friend, was also hospitalised but has now physically recovered from her serious injuries.
Mr Patel appeared for sentencing at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday 7 August and was in tears, looking at his family, as the judge read out his fate.
Read more: Live updates: Brockholes Brow death crash sentencing
He has also been disqualified from driving for nine years.
Shelby’s family have responded to the sentence.
Melanie Maher, Shelby’s mother, told Blog Preston: “The family of the late Shelby Maher would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the court and jury for serving justice in this case.
“Our family would also like to thanks Lancashire Constabulary especially police liaison officers for their unstinting support and help throughout the last two and a half years. On Wednesday 20 April 2016, the family of the late Shelby Maher received a life sentence.
“Today, Tuesday 7 August 2018, Mr Patel received six years. Mr Patel showed no remorse to our families throughout the two trials for his actions, even though he had the opportunity over those two and a half years. This has shown his true nature and character. Our family has never seeked vengeance or retribution, only justice. Today his sentence has not reflected this. On behalf of Shelby’s family we would like to say thank you.”
Linda Maher said: “I was blessed to be in the operating theatre and be present at the birth of my beautiful blonde haired, blue eyed granddaughter. I watched her take her first breath in this world at 11.10am weighing only 5lbs.13oz. I was the first person to hold our special bundle, I looked at her and I loved her instantly. My daughter Melanie, Shelby’s Mum, lived with me. We brought Shelby home and between Melanie, myself and my son Lee, we started a new chapter in our lives. It was chaotic at times but a new baby brought love and laughter into our lives
“In 2014, Shelby’s Mum gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Shelby gave her the name of Amy and no one got a look in with Amy when Shelby was around. She would carry her and sing to her. Shelby taught her to sing songs, her favourite one was twinkle, twinkle little star. I believe Shelby was trying to protect Amy in her own special way. She amazed me as she had a heart so big. We often talked about everything like what jobs she would like to study for, where she would like to travel to, learning to drive, marriage, to starting a family. She even knew what names to call her first child.
“College was going good and she was in a band. They were starting to do some gigs and she was a bit scared but excited to perform. Shelby was writing songs and singing at home most nights.
“Every day is a battle for me to appear normal, all the while my soul is screaming “My Granddaughter is dead”.
“The unbearable pain is always there. I literally feel like my heart is broken and I know the heartache is here to stay.
“Shelby is on my mind constantly and it’s never going to get better or any easier. Our lives have changed completely, changed forever. Now every day is a battle trying to appear normal with family and friends as the unbearable pain is always there.
“I truly miss all the little things about Shelby. Right from getting her out of bed in the mornings for college, to before she left the house I would without fail hug and kiss her and tell her that I loved her. I miss the feel and smell of her in my arms when I gave her cuddles, she got plenty of those off me. I felt she needed them. I cry for the life and life experiences she’ll never have. She was going to be a children’s advocate and her interview for that was being set up before the crash.
“I will never see her get engaged, or married or have her own children. No future grandchildren for her mum and no great grandchildren for me. A whole new generation of our family history is now gone. I miss her greatly. I will miss her every day for the rest of my life.”
Read more: The text conversation which showed Patel had been on his phone, seconds before he hit the girls in Brockholes Brow
Helen Lefferty, Rachel Murphy’s mother, gave this statement: “Rachel was 23 years old, she was just starting out in life. When I was told that Rachel had been killed I couldn’t believe it, my world ended at that point. I just wanted to be with her, I wanted to die so I could be with her. She shouldn’t have died, she was too young to die.
“I am constantly thinking what she is doing. She should still be here with her family. I still look for her outside playing football, I still look for her at the local shop. I worry about her all the time. I still think she is here and often go to my phone to ring her. I can’t accept she is gone.
“Rachel’s brother Adam (6) pines for her, he misses her terribly. He talks about Rachel on the way home from school. He says that she is thirsty and we have to buy a drink and leave it on her grave.
“I cannot explain what trauma this accident has caused. Our lives have been completely devastated by the actions of the driver of that car on that day. We will never forget Rachel.”
Supt Julian Platt, of Lancashire Police’s Tactical Operations, said: “This is a tragic case where two young women lost their lives, with another girl injured. My thoughts and those of my colleagues remain with the families, friends of the victims and all of those affected by this appalling incident.
“Mohmed Patel must live with the results of his actions, knowing that he has taken the lives of these two young women. I hope that this terrible case will at least act as a deterrent for anyone who still thinks it is acceptable to use a mobile phone while they are driving.
“The message is clear and simple – do not use your mobile phone while behind the wheel. Just taking your eyes off the road for a second or two to check a text, an email or a social media post can have devastating consequences both for you and for others.”
Justice Altham said: “Nothing can be said or done by me to reduce the loss that these families have suffered. The defendant failed to see the people that he hit, and only saw when his windscreen was opaque.
“No text message was so urgent that it was worth the life of the two women. He may as well have been driving with his eyes closed.
“Mr Patel has shown no sign of remorse for the two victim’s families, other than the sadness for the current situation he finds himself in.”
Tom Snape from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Evidence showed that there was just matter of seconds between Mohmed Patel sending a text message while driving, and him colliding with the victims as they crossed the road.
“While Patel pleaded guilty to careless driving, the CPS was not prepared to accept his plea to the lesser charge.
“His actions in texting while behind the wheel were shown to be dangerous, and that moment of deliberate distraction by his mobile phone had tragic consequences for the family and friends of Rachel and Shelby. Our thoughts are with them.”
Director of Campaigns for Brake Joshua Harris said: “Mr Patel’s selfish actions resulted in the tragic and needless deaths of Rachel Murphy and Shelby Maher and yet he will only face a maximum of six years in jail – a pitifully lenient sentence for such an awful crime. Ten months ago, the Government announced it would introduce tougher sentences for drivers who kill and yet the law remains unchanged. The Government needs to stop sitting on its hands and introduce this legislation – road crash victims deserve justice.
“Mobile phone use behind the wheel is all too common on our roads and its consequences, as in this case, can be truly catastrophic. The deaths of Rachel and Shelby must act as a wake-up call to
the Government and technology companies that action needs to be taken to stop illegal phone use behind the wheel. Research has shown that smartphone owners can’t go 12 minutes without checking their phone and the implications for this for road safety must be acknowledged and acted upon.”