Driver jailed after killing MP’s daughter in hit-and-run accident

Driver jailed after killing MP’s daughter in hit-and-run accident

by Tom Martin (October 2021)

BOOTLE MP Peter Dowd  told a court of the devastating loss of his only daughter in a hit-and-run accident.

Jennifer Dowd, a 31-year-old NHS project manager, suffered unsurvivable head injuries after being knocked from her bicycle from behind in September last year by a woman motorist rushing to work.

Her heart-broken dad, Peter Dowd, Labour MP for Bootle, read his poignant impact statement out at Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday, October 5 when the driver, Lucy Ashton appeared for sentence.

“On the Sunday morning she was knocked down, I could hear emergency services’ sirens and I could hear a helicopter close by, breaking the silence of that quiet morning. Little did I know they were on their way to help Jennie, who lay dying in the road just 100 yards from where I live.

“The idea that I was just a minute away from where she had been knocked down, deserted and left alone by the driver, injured and dying has stayed with me ever since.”

As he told of his feelings of letting her down Mr Dowd, his voice cracking with emotion, stated: “I tell myself there was little I could have done to help her. But I am still haunted by doubts. I will be haunted and burdened by those thoughts until the day I die. 

“What father, what parent, would not feel as I do?”

He told of her captivating smile and how she always thought of others and even in death had helped people as an organ donor.

The court heard that the tragic accident occurred on September 27 last year and  she died a year ago tomorrow (Wednesday, October 6) without ever re-gaining consciousness.

24-year-old Ashton, a care worker, admitted causing death by driving a Ford Focus carelessly and failing to stop after an accident.

The court heard that the victim, who had just been promoted to a role helping transform the NHS, was found lying unconscious in the country road, Lunt Road, Sefton Village, near Crosby, by two local women driving towards the village shortly after the 8.30 am collision.

Jailing Ashton for 12 months Judge David Aubrey, QC, said: “Two families suffered, two families continue to suffer and their lives, in different perspectives, will never be the same again.”

He said that Jennie, “was truly loved and respected by all of those who knew her. She had a bright career ahead of her and was a shining beacon standing for equality, diversity and fairness.”

18 months earlier she had married her partner, Samantha Brighton, who told how they had met in South Africa in 2015, fell in love and moved to Liverpool exactly four years to the day of the accident.

And just two days earlier they had picked their sperm donor and booked their first round of IVF treatment to hopefully start a family.

Judge Aubrey told Ashton, of Lunt Road, Sefton Village, “The life they had planned came to an end when you caused  her death by driving your car carelessly.

“It was a bright clear dry sunny Sunday morning. She was wearing bright clothing. She had simply gone out for a bike ride. She never returned. It was an open country road and in my judgement at the scene of the accident there was nothing to impede your vision and you simply failed to see her and drove into the rear of her cycle.

Critical condition

“No one witnessed the accident but two local residents in a car saw her lying on the road in a critical condition. They stopped to care for her before the emergency services arrived. You did not.”

Robert Dudley, prosecuting, said that after the accident Ashton left the scene and drove to nearby Maghull where she rang her boss before driving back to the scene. She did not wait  however and went back to Maghull where she rang a work colleague, saying she had “hit something” before driving to her home in Bootle and arriving “panicked.”

She said she had been in a collision, the sun had been in her eyes and she thought she had hit a person.

The police were called and when officers arrived she told them: “I’m so sorry, I panicked.” When interviewed she said she had heard a bang but carried on driving. She looked in her mirror and saw a bicycle and cyclist but panicked. She claimed it had been quite dark.

She admitted she had not slept well but failed to tell them that that evening she had been rowing with her boyfriend on the phone and was out and about driving in her car and swapping texts with him before finally returning home at 2.32 am. She got up six hours later, late for work.

Mr Dudley said that the victim had suffered multiple injuries including severe brain injuries caused when her head was struck by the car.

Judge Aubrey told blonde-haired Ashton: “You are described as being a diligent, caring hard worker caring for vulnerable people and this court has received moving references on your behalf speaking of your remorse.”

Some of these spoke of her “being a shell of a person having lost the zest for life and being broken.”

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