DRIVE FOR JUSTICE: '˜Was Phillipa only worth two-and-a-half years?'
Seven years on, devastated family are still '˜torturing themselves' over why their beloved daughter's male friend - who had been drinking all day and was uninsured - was driving her car when it crashed at 80mph in a 40 mph zone. The 19-year-old died in hospital from her injuries, while he survived
“Two-and-a-half years for a life – it’s disgusting and is no justice.”
Sue Campbell’s beautiful daughter Phillipa was on the cusp of following her ambitions and was about to start university and longed to travel to Australia.
But in an instant, all her dreams were shattered and her family were consumed by grief when Phillipa was killed at the age of 19 in a 80mph smash caused by a male friend who drove her sports car.
The MG TF ploughed into a fence at high speed and the impact was so severe, both passengers had to be cut out of the wreckage.
Phillippa, who lived in Wigan, died in hospital but the culprit survived his injuries.
It was revealed he had been drinking all day before the crash and was not insured to drive the car.
When the case went to court, the judge said he was satisfied the driver had been adversely affected by drink and driving too fast and he was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving and sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail.
However, he later appealed the sentence and got a year knocked off and eventually served two-and-a-half years.
Sue, 56, said: “Two-and-a-half years – is that all my daughter was worth? How is that justice?
“I think it is disgusting and we feel like we were robbed of our daughter while the person who caused her death received a far too low sentence.
“We were hoping they would give him the maximum sentence but the actual time he served was pitiful.
“Sentencing is far too lenient for those who kill on the roads and I believe anything under 10 years is pathetic.
“Once you get behind the wheel of a car, you are responsible for the people in the car and if your actions lead to their death, in my eyes, you have taken that person’s life.
“It is just the same to me as if you got a knife and stabbed someone with it.”
The horrific tragedy happened in August 2009 and Philippa was celebrating getting a place on a criminology and sociology course at Edge Hill University.
Phillipa, who also worked part time at her local Tesco store where her mum works, had been to a club before the crash and Sue says the family still can’t understand why Phillipa allowed him to drive her car.
Sue explains: “It is one of those mysteries we will never know the answer to. We cannot understand why Phillipa wasn’t driving the car herself and why she let him drive.
“He was the ex-boyfriend of one of her friends.
“When they were coming out of the club, one of the doormen saw them arguing over who was going to drive and snatching the car keys from each other.
“But the end result was that he was the one driving the car and he was driving 80mph in a 40 zone and he lost control of the car.
“He survived the crash, but our daughter didn’t.”
Sue says the driver had been drinking and witnesses reported seeing him drinking before the tragedy.
She says this makes it even more difficult to understand why he was the one driving the car.
Sue says: “They were both taken to hospital after the crash and there was some mix-up with the blood sample and it got contaminated so there was no proof about the alcohol in his system, just the evidence of eye witnesses.
“They did a blood test on Phillipa and she was legal to drive.
“We just wish she had been driving her own car that night as she was a good driver and in control of her car.”
Sue says Phillipa was a lovely girl full of ambition and was training to be a paramedic as she wanted to help people.
The former Hawkley Hall High School pupil was an excellent swimmer and a former Manchester United Ladies player.
Sue, who also has a son Lee, 31, reveals losing Phillipa has hit all the family hard, particularly her husband Robert who blames himself for buying Philippa the sports car.
A few years after Philippa’s death, Robert’s grief was compounded when a cruel hoaxer began sending texts to his mobile phone pretending to be from his daughter.
One of the texts said she wanted to cuddle him while another asked him to forgive the driver who killed her.
Sue says: “Even after seven years, it is not any easier and we live with Philippa’s loss every day.
“There was only four years between Philippa and her brother and they were very close so her death absolutely destroyed him.
“He has a little boy now who should have an aunty.
“We have all been heartbroken by Phillipa’s death and my husband Robert is in a particularly bad way.
“He was a car salesman but he has never gone back to work since Philippa’s death and he is on a lot of anti-depressants.
“He is just a completely different person and has no get up and go any more.
“He thinks about Phillipa every day and is in tears. Robert bought the sports car for Phillipa for her birthday and I think he feels guilt and he keeps saying, ‘I should not have bought her that car’.
“But Phillipa knew how to drive that car and handle it and she was a good driver.
“We keep torturing ourselves by asking ‘Why was he driving her car?’”
Sue says they have never been shown any remorse or received an apology from the culprit and she is just thankful she hasn’t seen him since.
Sue said: “I work at Tesco Express in Wigan and went back to work six weeks after Phillipa’s death.
“It was very difficult as while she was at college, she had a part-time job at the same store.
“But I was determined to go back to work and I wanted to show this man couldn’t ruin my life too.
“I think about Philippa every day and it is especially hard at this time of year coming up to Christmas.
“The only thing that keeps me going is belief that she is in a better place.”
Sue believes sentencing for those who cause deaths on the road is far too lenient and would like to see the proposals for life sentences come to fruition.
She says: “There need to be much longer sentences for those who cause deaths on the road. Even though people say it is not a premeditated death, as soon as you get behind the wheel, you are the one in charge and if you have been drinking or are driving recklessly, you are the one responsible. I would urge everyone to get behind the Drive For Justice Campaign and keep fighting for tougher sentences.
“People also need to be warned not to let anyone else drive their car or get into a car with someone who they know has been drinking. I also feel maybe the legal age for driving should be raised to 21.
“Young people often wrongly believe they are invincible.”
Sign the Drive For Justice petition here:- www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-deliver-stiffer-punishments-for-drivers-who-kill-or-seriously-injure-on-uk-roads