Wife Accidentally Killed Husband By Pulling Handbrake As They Argued During Car Journey

A wife who killed her husband in a car crash after she grabbed the handbrake at nearly 60mph in a drunken row was jailed today.

Caroline and Alan Meeking were on their way home to Somerset from a day's drinking in Bridport, Dorset, when they crashed into another vehicle. The 45-year-old, of Park Barn Lane, Ashill, Ilminster, Somerset, denied the single charge of manslaughter but was convicted following a trial at Bristol Crown Court in November.

Jailing Meeking for two years, Judge Neil Ford QC, the Recorder of Bristol, said: 'In my judgment, this case is so serious I must pass an immediate custodial sentence.
'A suspended sentence or community order would not reflect the seriousness of the offending.'

Meeking showed little emotion as she was led away to begin her sentence.

Rebecca Bradbury, defending, said Meeking had lost her 'soulmate' and would live with the guilt for the rest of her life. 'The consequences for Mrs Meeking and for both families have been tragic,' Miss Bradbury said.

'She has lost her husband, who she clearly loved and adored. She has lost everything.
'The consequences of pulling that handbrake will remain with her for the rest of her life.

'She does take responsibility for her actions and did so from the outset.
'Mrs Meeking does not have the words to express the sorrow she feels to the loss she has caused her husband and his family.'

Miss Bradbury called on the judge to postpone passing an immediate custodial sentence.

During the two-day trial the jury heard that Meeking and her husband had drunk two bottles of rose wine between them and they later had four or five pints of lager each.

Ian Dixie, prosecuting, said Meeking grabbed the handbrake during a drink-fuelled argument in which Mr Meeking called his wife a 'dirty slut'.

But Meeking, who runs a cattery, said she did not intend to kill her husband and just wanted to get away from him as the argument had already lasted 30 minutes.

The couple, who had been together for nine years and married for 12 months, were arguing as they drove along the unlit A3088 at Montacute, near Yeovil, on the evening of August 30 2010.

Meeking grabbed the handbrake - forcing their silver Ford Escort into a spin and heading side-on at speed into the path of a car coming in the opposite direction.
The driver of the other car, a green Rover 620, had no time to react and the two cars collided shortly before 10.30pm.

Despite wearing his seat belt, Mr Meeking suffered catastrophic injuries and was declared dead at the scene by medics. The other motorist escaped without serious injury.


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