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Drink driver jailed after fatal collision in Stalham

A drink driver has been jailed after his car mounted a pavement in Stalham and killed a 20-year-old woman.

Malcolm Waite, age 68, of Meadow Drive, Hoveton, appeared at Norwich Crown Court today (Friday 18 November 2022) and was jailed for eight years.

He was also disqualified from driving for another seven years and told he must take a compulsory driving before he can drive again.

Waite pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to one count of causing the death of Fenella Hawes by dangerous driving on the A149 in Stalham on 31 July 2022.

The court heard how Waite had been driving a Lexus RX SUV along the A149 Wayford Road, between the B1159 junction and Chapel Field Road, shortly before 4.30pm on Sunday 31 July 2022 when his car, traveling at speed, mounted the pavement and hit two pedestrians - a teenage girl and a 20-year-old woman.

Despite attempts to save her life, sadly, the 20-year-old woman – later named as Fenella Hawes from Stalham – died at the scene. The second pedestrian, a 16-year-old girl, suffered cuts and bruising.

They had been walking home together after work when Waite crashed into them.

The court heard how Waite hadn’t stopped his car after hitting Fenella and the teenage girl but instead continued along the A149 for another mile. His car finally stopped after colliding with a road sign, trees and shrubbery on the verge of the road, just before the junction of the A149 and Old Market Road.

When officers arrived at the scene of the second collision, they found Waite sitting in the driver’s seat. He smelt strongly of alcohol but refused to provide a breath test. He was arrested and taken to the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston to be assessed.

While in custody at Great Yarmouth Police Investigation Centre, approximately four hours after driving into Fenella and the teenage girl, he was recorded as having 120 micrograms of alcohol in his breath. Officers calculated this would have been approximately 158 micrograms if taken at the roadside after the crash. The legal limit is 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres.

The police investigation found that Waite’s vehicle was not faulty, and the weather and road conditions were clear and fine.

During police interviews, he answered no comment to every question.

In her victim personal statement, Fenella’s mother Margaret said: “Every day I sob, when I wake up, throughout the day at random times with seemingly no reason and when I go to bed at night. I picture her walking along, so happy carrying sunflowers for me and then being hit by the car. I sob because I will never see Fenella again, I will never see her radiant smile or hear her laugh, I will never talk with her about her day or about her plans for the future, I will never help cheer her up when she is sad or gossip with her, I will never go on long walks with her again…I will never be able to sit with her in front of our fire…it will never be the same again.

“I sob for the future that she doesn't have because a drunken man chose to get into a car, knowing that this was a weapon that could kill someone, and indeed it did it killed my 20-year-old daughter. She was a young adult beginning her life and her bright future was taken out in a few seconds because of someone who did not think or did not care. I sob because she was so happy: she was so lovely inside and out she was so alive and now she isn't here, and never will be again. I never had a chance to say goodbye.”

Following the sentencing, Detective Inspector David McCormack, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: "This is a tragedy, and it was wholly avoidable. I implore anyone who thinks it is okay to have a drink and then drive, please remember the heart-breaking and devastating consequences of drink-driving so evident in this case. Waite’s decision to drink and drive has changed lives forever.

“The teenage girl who, together with Fenella, was just walking home from work that day is traumatised by what has happened. Waite will have to live the rest of his life in the knowledge he has taken the life of a remarkable young woman who had so much to offer and lots she wanted to achieve. He has caused so much pain to so many people.”

PC Callum Walchester, who arrested Waite at the scene of the collision, said: “I’ve been a PC for 10 years and worked in roads policing for almost six years, and he was the drunkest person I have ever seen behind the wheel of a car.”

Norfolk Police has released body worn video footage of PC Walchester arresting Waite at the scene of the second collision. You can watch it here: https://vimeo.com/772493829

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