Careless Northamptonshire driver caused death of bride-to-be by aggressive overtaking move

William Tomlinson has been sentenced to a year in prison for causing the death of project manager Jessica Wallace in May, 2015.
William Tomlinson has been sentenced to a year in prison for causing the death of project manager Jessica Wallace in May, 2015.

A Northamptonshire man whose "aggressive and impatient" overtaking manoeuvre caused the death of a bride-to-be just weeks before her big day has been sent to jail.

William Tomlinson was driving a Ford Mondeo on the A46 Newark Bypass on May 22, 2015, when he suddenly pulled out from behind the Vauxhall insignia travelling in front of him when exiting Farndon roundabout.

Two-thirds of the 59-year-old's vehicle crossed into the oncoming lane causing Jessica Wallace - travelling in the opposite direction at a closing speed of 100mph- to swerve and lose control of her vehicle.

She was killed instantly when her Ford Focus ploughed into a lorry travelling behind Mr Tomlinson. The 28-year-old project manager was just 10 weeks away from her wedding day to fiance Christopher Evans.

Sentencing Tomlinson, of The Banks, Kilsby, to a year in prison, judge Adrienne Lucking QC said no custodial term could bring back a loved one.

She said: "The body language of your vehicle was that of an impatient and aggressive overtaking manoeuvre - I am sure you were trying to force a middle path so they would have to give way to you.

"You moved out too far into the opposing lane.

"I'm satisfied your driving fell just short of dangerous driving."

The court heard how investigations on Miss Wallace's car found she had incorrectly set up steering geometry at the time of the collision. But judge Lucking QC was not satisfied the fault would have caused Miss Wallace to collide with the lorry.

Part of Tomlinson's defence case at trial was that Miss Wallace's decision to steer left sharply on seeing Tomlinson's car was an "over-reaction".

But again this was dismissed by the judge, who said she found this line of defence "unattractive."

Tomlinson kept his eyes closed as prosecutor Sarah Gaunt summarised the effect Miss Wallace's death had on her fiance' Christopher Evans' life.

She said: "He is still unable to stop the tears. He was unable to say goodbye, which he found so cruel.

"It was particularly traumatic."

Mrs Wallace's family were unable to see her body, such was the extent of the injuries, the court heard.

Though judge Lucking QC said Tomlinson had shown no remorse throughout his trial, she accepted that the 59-year-old has since come to regret his actions on that day.

Mitigating for him, Tom Gent, said: "There has been a change in light of the jury's verdict. He has expressed this to me and to his probation officer.

"He is absolutely clear now made a terrible error in doing what he did. No longer does he believe there was no fault lying with him.

"It is a misjudgement he bitterly regrets."

Tomlinson was also banned from driving for four-and-a-half years and will be made to take a re-test following the ban. He will serve half of his prison term in custody and the remainder on licence.