Bereaved Nottinghamshire mother urges drivers to think before overtaking

The mother of a 28-year-old woman who was killed in a collision in 2015 has urged drivers to think about the danger of carelessly or aggressive overtaking after a man was jailed for causing her daughter’s death.

Jessica Wallace, from Newark, died when her Ford Focus collided head on with a lorry on the A46 Fosse Road near Farndon on Friday 22 May 2015. Just seconds before, 59-year-old William Tomlinson, of The Banks, Kilsby, had overtaken another vehicle, causing Jessica to swerve and lose control of her car and collide with a HGV on the opposite side. Dashcam footage from another lorry on the road shows the moments that led to the collision, including Tomlinson’s careless overtaking.

Speaking about her daughter, Jessica’s mother Patricia Taylor said; “Jessica was determined, passionate, creative, intelligent, wickedly funny, insightful, empathic and loving. She wanted to understand people and the workings of their minds and use this knowledge to help them.

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Her work in prisoner rehabilitation, many of whom had been damaged by life, was fueled by the desire to prevent further victims. She knew the value of a happy, loving home and the good it could do, having experienced her own pain and loss of family members. She thrived on knowing and understanding people, knew when others were in emotional pain and helped them.”

Jessica died just 10 weeks before she was due to marry her fiancé. The family had to unravel all the wedding plans whilst arranging her funeral.

This month (Wednesday 8 March 2017), William Tomlinson was jailed for 12 months at Northampton Crown Court for causing death by careless driving. He had denied the charge but was found guilty by unanimous verdict. He was also banned from driving for four years, six months and will have to take a mandatory re-test.

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Patricia added: “Our family has been utterly torn apart for the sake of this man shaving three seconds off his journey. Jess was devoted to her family, fiance and friends, she loved life and was excited about the future. I just hope it makes other drivers think about their actions and the devastation a wrong move could cause.”

Detective Sergeant James Greely said: “We hope this footage sends the message to drivers to seriously think it through before overtaking. This was a very sad case where a woman has lost her life because Tomlinson failed to think about other road users and the consequences of his driving. This sentencing result shows that a driver who might not be directly involved in the collision can still be found responsible for causing it and, in this case, taking someone’s life.”

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Janine Smith from the CPS said: “It is extremely important that drivers do not underestimate the dangers of overtaking. The CPS is seeing more cases in the East Midlands where fatal collisions have been caused by overtaking, but these tragic cases are entirely avoidable. “William Tomlinson maintained, even throughout his trial, that he had done nothing wrong and it was reasonable for him to overtake. Our case was that he had overtaken, on a single carriageway, knowing that this would force oncoming drivers to take steps to avoid him and was therefore culpable for the events that followed.

“He is now serving a custodial prison sentence and will have to come to terms with the fact that his actions; his decisions caused the death of a young woman.

“So many defendants in these cases are of previous good character – they have never been in trouble before. Yet one selfish or impatient decision, as we have seen, can have devastating consequences.”