The heartbroken widow of a ‘devoted’ dad killed by a Horncastle woman who was driving while chatting on a hands-free phone has said her life will never be the same.
Samantha Ayres, 34, of West Street, was jailed for three years when she appeared at Lincoln Crown Court last Wednesday.
The teaching assistant had been convicted of causing David Kirk’s death by dangerous driving at a previous court hearing.
Ayres was having an ‘in-depth’ conversation with a friend on a hands-free phone and was on the wrong side of the road when her car struck David Kirk who was riding a motorcycle in Baumber Lane, Horsington, in November 2016.
Following the verdict, Mr Kirk’s widow, Katie, read out a moving statement in which she revealed how she went to find her husband when he did not return home.
She said: “Dave sent me a text at 5.32pm that day saying he was just leaving work.
“He was coming to meet me and Alyssa (the couple’s daughter) after my first day back at work.
“By 6.30pm I was getting very worried as he should have arrived at 6pm. I got Alyssa in the car and went to look for him. I knew the way he would go.
“We came to where the police had blocked the road and from there I could see the lights from the ambulance but they wouldn’t let me go to Dave.
“I sat and waited with Alyssa wrapped in a blanket on my knee.
“Two police officers came to the car to talk to me. I knew what they were going to say, I could feel something was wrong. Before they said anything I said: ‘He’s dead, isn’t he?’
“My mother picked me and Alyssa up and we went to tell Dave’s family. I felt it was my responsibility as his wife to do this. I can still hear the scream from Dave’s mother as I told her that her baby had died and see his sister collapse into her friend’s arms on the stairs.”
Mrs Kirk added: “That night changed my life. I learnt what a broken heart feels like and now understand when people talk about losing someone can cause physical pain. Your heart beats so fast and so hard you feel like it is breaking your ribs.
“I have shut people out. I no longer care about myself or my life. All I care about is Alyssa and making sure she is having her needs met.
“I couldn’t look at Alyssa, she looks so much like Dave, it hurt to see her, it still does.
“She doesn’t understand what happened, she thinks her daddy went to work and hasn’t come back. After two days she woke up and shouted, ‘daddy.’ Each time she said it, it felt like my heart broke again.”
She added: “I met Dave when I was 16, he was 17. We have been married for five years and have a beautiful baby. He treated us like princesses.
“Alyssa now has to grow up without her father.
“She has a lot of milestones to pass now without her daddy, things that every dad should be able to do with their daughter, first day at school, first day at ballet, learning to swim, going to school prom, graduation, and walking her down the aisle at her wedding.”
Passing sentence, Judge John Pini QC said Ayres was ’most probably’ distracted by the long phone call.
“The evidence from Mrs Kirk as to the effect this tragedy has had on her and her young child was utterly heart-breaking.”
Ayres was also banned from driving for four and half years and must take an extended retest.
It is not currently against the law to use hands-free kits unless you are touching a mobile, but both the Highway Code and Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents advise it could be a distraction.
Ayres, who had been driving for just five years, claimed she lost control of her Ford Fiesta after a rear tyre went on to the verge but police experts found no evidence on the road for her explanation.
Michelle Stuart-Lofthouse, mitigating, said Ayres was genuinely remorseful and had suffered with depression, self-loathing and suicidal tendencies since the crash.
The jury was not told that just eight months before the crash Ayres was caught doing 58mph in a 30mph village limit in the same area where Mr Kirk died.
Ayres signed the speeding declaration after being caught on 16 March 2016 but was not prosecuted because of a computer malfunction in issuing the ticket.
The incident was not revealed to the jury as Judge Pini ruled speed was not a factor in Mr Kirk’s death.