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Inquest into Thetford mother and son who died in crash

PUBLISHED: 13:00 08 September 2011

A mother and son were killed when the car they were in failed to stop at a junction and collided with another car, an inquest has heard.

Jennifer Molloy, 48, and her 22-year-old son, Daniel Gemmell, who had recently moved from Thetford to Cranwell Road, Carbrooke, were travelling from their home to Diss in the back of a Ford Puma on November 7 last year when the car, driven by Ms Molloy’s son-in-law, smashed into a black Vauxhall Zafira on the Garboldisham road at East Harling.

Army corporal Richard Driver, 32, from Woking, in Surrey, was driving the car. His wife, Nicola was also a passenger.

A post-mortem examination found Ms Molloy died from multiple injuries to the head and neck and Mr Gemmell died from major injuries to the head and abdomen.

Cpl and Mrs Driver had stayed with Ms Molloy the previous night and were travelling to see Mr Gemmell’s two-year-old daughter.

Mrs Driver told the inquest on Tuesday: “We didn’t know where we were going and my husband was taking directions from Daniel. He wasn’t going very fast. He didn’t know the roads. As we drove towards the junction there was a give way sign.

“I remember looking out of the window and seeing a dark car. That’s all I remember until I woke up and saw the sky.”

The vehicles collided and the impact caused the Puma to split in two.

As a result of the crash Mrs Driver broke all her ribs, needed to have her spleen removed and suffered a damaged ovary, lacerated liver, perforated diaphragm and needed skin grafts on her left arm. She suffered cardiac arrest three times by the roadside and was not expected to survive.

Cpl Driver suffered a fractured shoulder and vertebrae and a punctured lung.

The driver of the Zafira, Linda Thomas, from Great Yarmouth, was travelling from a car boot sale at Banham to Snetterton Market with her family. Her husband, Martyn, was in the passenger seat and suffered a shattered hip which required surgery. Mrs Thomas and their daughters Nicola, 18, and Jamie-Lee, 13, suffered shock but were unhurt.

The Puma was examined by police and it was discovered the front offside and nearside tyres had an illegal tread, but this would not have caused the accident.

The road has since had the word “slow” painted near the junction where the accident happened.

At Norwich Crown Court in June Cpl Driver pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and was given a community sentence and banned from driving for 12 months.

Coroner William Armstrong said Ms Molloy and Daniel died as a result of a road traffic accident, saying: “It was an error on Richard’s part and he admitted it straightaway. He acknowledged what happened and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.”


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