Jail for wife who killed by pulling handbrake
A WOMAN who killed her husband in a car crash after grabbing the handbrake at nearly 60mph during a drunken row has been jailed for two years.
Caroline Meeking (45) and her husband Alan (49) were on their way home to Somerset, England, from a day's drinking in Dorset, when they crashed into another vehicle.
Meeking, 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.
Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Neil Ford QC said Meeking was well aware that her husband had drunk "significantly more" than allowed under drink-drive laws.
"On the return journey, you and he argued. I have no doubt that he said some dreadful things to you and you asked him to stop the car.
"As the car was travelling at close to 60mph without warning you pulled on the handbrake. That caused the car to spin and hit a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction.
"A devastating collision occurred between the two cars. Mr Meeking tragically died from multiple injuries."
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," she said. "She has lost her husband, who she clearly loved and adored."
During the two-day trial, the jury had heard that Meeking and her husband had drunk two bottles of 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 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 road, near Yeovil, on the evening of August 30, 2010.
Meeking grabbed the handbrake, forcing their Ford Escort into a spin and heading side-on into the path of a car coming in the opposite direction.
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.
Meeking said she and her husband, who worked as a vehicle panel beater, had a good marriage and that shortly before his death had been talking about starting a family.
Speaking after Meeking's conviction in November, Mr Meeking's son Dean (23) said his family had no sympathy for her.
He added: "We're just glad to have a good result for my Dad, justice is done at last."