A woman has been jailed for causing the death of a “beloved” former director after colliding head-on with his car while driving the wrong way on a freeway slipway.
Ann Marie Crook, 43, merged into oncoming traffic on the M57 near Kirkby, Merseyside, in her black Renault Clio before colliding with the Honda Jazz of 64-year-old Paula Kingdon.
Ms Kingdon, from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, died from her injuries after being rushed to hospital, while Crook, from St Helens, was left fighting for her life after the accident.
Ann Marie Crook, 42, was jailed for life after admitting to causing the dangerous driving death of 64-year-old Paula Kingdon on October 31, 2019, and was also banned from driving for five years and three months in the Liverpool Crown Court.
Paula Kingdon, right, who died after her car was hit by Ann Marie Cook’s Renault Clio in October 2019, was described as a dedicated director at Liverpool Crown Court.
Crook, a caretaker, was jailed for life on Thursday for four years, eight months after previously admitting to causing death by dangerous driving at Liverpool Crown Court.
He was also banned from driving for five years, three months.
The horrific accident occurred on October 31, 2019, and emergency services rushed onto the southbound access road of the M57 at Junction 5.
Ms Kingdon, a retired director, was on her way back from a regular visit with her stepfather in Liverpool when Crook collided with her car.
The court heard that the elderly widow has “declined dramatically physically and mentally” since Ms Kingdon’s death.
Prosecutors said Crook drove up to 94 mph heading west before moving into a right-turn filter lane in the run-up to the accident.
Instead of turning right, witnesses watched in horror as he entered the exit slip road of the M57 in the wrong direction.
Crook was jailed for life at Liverpool Crown Court after admitting to causing death by dangerous driving. He was also banned from driving for five years, three months.
Drivers of vehicles traveling in the right direction turned on their lights and honked their horns, and several vehicles narrowly avoided a collision, including a truck.
They spoke of Crook looking ahead and driving with determination as he accelerated from the driveway to the main road.
Crook told police that he couldn’t remember anything about the collision and denied that he had been trying to kill himself.
Stephen Sharples, Ms. Kingdon’s brother, said she was a “committed director, a loving aunt and a loving stepdaughter to her stepfather John.”
In a statement read in court, he said: ‘After a lifetime of dedicating herself to others, Paula deserved the opportunity to enjoy her retirement.
“ He embraced his new life with the same energy and positivity that he had brought to his work.
He happily divided his time between seeing family and friends, traveling, going to the theater, taking care of John and following Liverpool FC.
“It’s heartbreaking to me that Paula has had this wonderful new chapter in her life so cruelly taken away by the mindless actions of a total stranger.”
Prosecutor Keith Drummond said after sentencing: ‘Ann Marie Crook is a former good-natured woman and had no prior convictions for driving.
But for some reason, on the morning of October 31, 2019, he chose to get behind the wheel of his car and turn that vehicle into a killing machine.
It may be that he intended to commit suicide, we cannot be sure.
But it did not. Her reckless and dangerous driving took the life of an innocent motorist and has left a tragedy of loss and grief for Paula Kingdon’s family.
Ann Marie Crook pleaded guilty and accepted her role in the gruesome events of that day. But that won’t bring Paula Kingdon back. A truly tragic case.
Merseyside Police Inspector Stuart McIver said: ‘This was a tragic incident and our thoughts today are very much with Paula’s family, who described her as a caring aunt and a dedicated former principal of 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 been left in no doubt about the consequences of his actions, and I hope he reflects on the impact this has had on the victim’s family.”