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Driver says sorry for death crash

PUBLISHED: 22:36 22 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:03 06 July 2010

A 15-YEAR-OLD papergirl was killed in the back of a delivery van in a crash after she helped an unlicensed driver to complete his rounds, an inquest has been told.

A 15-YEAR-OLD papergirl was killed in the back of a delivery van in a crash after she helped an unlicensed driver to complete his rounds, an inquest has been told.

Emily Knipe, from Hopton, died of chest injuries after the McColls delivery van in which she was travelling in the back without a seatbelt skidded on the A143 Great Yarmouth to Diss road at Fritton and hit a tree in December 2008.

The inquest at Great Yarmouth was told that the driver, Luke McNally, then aged 19, had breached the firm's driving policy by allowing Emily and another papergirl, Demi Beresford, into his van to help him out on his round.

Mr McNally had also lied to the manager of McColls newsagents at Belton about having a valid driving licence when he took the job of paper delivery driver two months before the crash.

Last July, Mr McNally was given a 24-week custodial sentence after he admitted causing the death of Emily by driving while unlicensed - the first prosecution of its kind in Norfolk under new laws.

At the inquest, Mr McNally apologised in person for first time to Emily's family after they were told he had broken company policy by letting the girls into his vehicle and had not told his boss that his licence had been revoked.

He said: “I am really sorry for the people it has affected. I know what I have done has totally wrecked your lives. I didn't think of the risks.”

Yarmouth coroner Keith Dowding was told that the van left the road after it hit ice at about 8.30am on Sunday, December 7, 2008.

Anthony Thorpe, who was driving an oncoming 4x4 vehicle at the time, said: “It continued to slide into a full 180 degrees.

“It flipped over and vanished into the woods. It became airborne, struck a tree and came back on the road. It was a very violent spring back into the road.”

The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.

After the inquest, Emily's mother Susan, of Turin Way, Hopton, said it was easy for Mr McNally to say sorry now because he did not have to live with the full ramifications of his actions, as she had to every day.

She added: “Today has just brought back all the grief we first felt when Emily died.

“She was such a kind girl who could sometimes be a bit cheeky. Everyone she knew loved her so much.”

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