London – A girl of eight was killed by a speeding businessman who had just taken a photo at the wheel to show that he was stuck in traffic.
Emily Connor was crossing the road with her grandmother when she was hit by Jon-Paul Caruana’s Vauxhall Corsa at almost 50mph in a 30mph area.
Moments earlier, the company director, 25, had taken a picture at the wheel to show a friend why he was running late.
He had also been dictating business messages to his fiancée, a passenger in the car. She told one colleague they were “breaking speed barriers” to avoid being late.
When Emily, described as a happy and healthy girl who was her family’s “shining light”, died at the scene the distraught driver cried out: “I have killed a kid.”
Yesterday at Manchester Crown Court, Caruana admitted causing death by dangerous driving. He was jailed for three years and four months and banned from driving for four years and eight months.
Judge David Stockdale, QC, told him: ‘You were in a hurry, you had been held up and you were frustrated. You were driving at a grossly excessive speed.
‘This was a piece of obviously dangerous driving in a residential, built-up area that brought about the loss of a young life. It was entirely avoidable.’Emily, from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, was visiting her grandparents for the weekend in November 2018. She and her gran, Dorothy Simpson-Wheeler, were on their way to catch a bus and see the Christmas lights at Manchester’s Trafford Centre.
Gavin Howie, prosecuting, said: ‘She and Emily started to cross the road. She heard a loud car horn and suddenly Emily was thrust out of her hand into the air. She didn’t see the car until she saw Emily lying in the road.’
The court heard that Caruana, a call centre sales director, was late picking up a colleague because he had to go back home to pick up a forgotten security fob.
Witnesses saw him driving ‘very fast,’ weaving around the wrong side of a traffic island and using his phone in a traffic queue.
But he had already picked up the colleague when he hit Emily and the judge said he was at a loss to understand why he had kept speeding. Police estimated that he hit her at 47mph. He was breathalysed and told police he had smoked half a marijuana joint the night before. He tested negative for both drink and drugs.
Emily’s father, Danny Connor, who also has two teenage sons, said in a statement that she was ‘beautiful and popular’ and doing well at school. She was ‘a bridge between family members because of her engaging personality’.
‘She enjoyed singing and dancing and even when illness in the family was present she was always a shining light. Knowing the boys need me is the only thing that keeps me going.’
Caruana, of Salford, denied being frustrated by the traffic and his lawyer Richard Littler said he was ‘inconsolable’. ‘He said he wanted to embrace Emily when he saw her in the road because she reminded him of his sister,’ Mr Littler said.
‘He isn’t interested in how long the sentence is – he is willing to accept the case against him. He has wound up his company knowing that won’t be able to carry on. He has wound up his tenancy, he has cut his hair and beard in preparation of going into custody.’
© Daily Mail