Is that all our daughter’s life was worth? Family of killed teacher say driver’s punishment was ‘insult’

Gemma Kay, 23, who was killed by careless driver Laura Wright.
Gemma Kay, 23, who was killed by careless driver Laura Wright.
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The devastated parents of a young teacher who died at the hands of careless driver Laura Wright have called her punishment “an insult”.

Only child Gemma Kay was just 23 when she was killed after a horrific collision in Washington on April 26, where she and boyfriend Gary Dodd were flung from their motorbike.

Laura Wright leaving Sunderland Magistrates' Court

Laura Wright leaving Sunderland Magistrates' Court

Wright, 33, has never been able to explain why she pulled out of Inkerman Road, Concord, directly into the path of the young couple, who were travelling at just 30mph along Heworth Road.

On Monday, Wright, of Ann Avenue, Kelloe, was sentenced to a five-month night-time curfew and a one-year driving ban after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving in the crash which also left Gary, 25, from Washington, with serious leg injuries.

The sentence added insult to injury for Gemma’s grieving parents, mother Liz Kay and stepfather Chris Suter, who said the sentence makes life “seem worthless”.

“We are absolutely appalled by the sentence,” Chris, 48, told the Echo. “Is that all our daughter’s life was worth?

“Our whole lives have been devastated, so to see that woman walking out of court with a big smile on her face was an insult to all of us.”

Chris Suter, step-father of Gemma Kay

“We didn’t expect her to go to prison, but the sentence does not fit the crime, she didn’t even get a fine.”

They are now considering taking legal advice to see whether they can appeal against the sentence.

“We don’t think she has been punished, it doesn’t seem to fit with what she did,” he added.

“She’s killed Gemma and Gary is probably going to be maimed for the rest of his life. His leg isn’t healing properly.

ACCIDENT APPEAL: The scene of accident Heworth Road, Concord, Washington.

ACCIDENT APPEAL: The scene of accident Heworth Road, Concord, Washington.

“Our whole lives have been devastated, so to see that woman walking out of court with a big smile on her face was an insult to all of us.

Gemma had been due to qualify as a teacher in May after graduating from Newcastle University with a maths degree last year, and had already secured a full-time teaching job at a school in South Shields, starting in October.

But her hopes for the future and plans to move in with Gary, were destroyed, during a moment’s inattention by Wright on that Sunday morning.

Groundwork foreman Chris and Liz, 50, a chef, had been out walking their dog near their home on the outskirts of York, when they were met by police officers, who broke the news that Gemma had been involved in an accident.

“They took us straight up to Newcastle with the sirens on,” Chris said. “We got to the hospital but we didn’t get to see her until the early hours of Monday morning when she came out of surgery. They told us we had to make the decision to turn the machine off. It was just horrendous. It’s destroyed everything. It was the first time she’d ever been on a bike.

“Her mum has only just gone back to work, she’s not been very good at all.

“Gemma was all Liz lived for, she was her best friend and they spoke to each other every day, she now feels she has nothing left in her life and this decision by the court has not helped.

“I’ve known Gemma since she was nine, she was bright, kind and intelligent, beautiful inside and out – far brighter than me, but I never told her that. She was just one of those people who would get on with anyone and was always happy to help in her own laid-back way.

“She worked extremely hard, both at work and her education which she was three weeks short of finishing, and then was about to reap the rewards for all her hard work.

“She was very determined and would never give up no matter what she turned her hand to. We both miss her more than words can say, she was the light in our life.”