THE devastated family of a woman killed in a 'terrifying' crash caused by a new driver who lost control of his car spoke of the 'void which can never be filled'.

Hannah Richardson, from Stratton, died from her injuries after the car she was travelling in driven by her husband Stuart was involved in a head-on crash on the A352 at Whitcombe on October 16 last year.

The driver responsible, Mathew Vater, wept in the dock at Bournemouth Crown Court yesterday as the court heard a victim impact statement from Mr Richardson.

Vater, aged 24, of Rectory Close, Broadmayne, was jailed for 10 months after admitting causing death by careless driving.

He admitted losing control while negotiating a bend, which put his Peugeot 206 car into a head-on collision with a Honda, driven by Mr Richardson.

The couple sustained serious injuries, with Mrs Richardson suffering a fatal cardiac arrest later that day in hospital.

Vater, who had only been driving for nine months at the time of the crash, escaped with minor injuries.

Prosecuting, Tim Dracass, said Mr Richardson – who suffered two spinal fractures, a broken ankle, broken ribs and a dislocated knee in the collision – recalled how his wife had screamed in the moments before the impact.

The last words she ever spoke to her husband were “my body hurts all over.”

Mr Dracass, said the Richardsons, who have an 11 year-old daughter, were driving along the A352 eastbound, so Mr Richardson could get to work in Lulworth.

“His wife was only in the car as she was going to drive the Honda back to a garage in Dorchester for a routine service,” the prosecutor explained. “As Mr Richardson approached the bend he saw a vehicle on the opposite side of the carriageway coming towards him.

“He had that car in view for a few seconds, but it continued its arc onto his side of the carriageway.”

Investigations confirmed the Peugeot was on the wrong side of the road when the crash occurred.

Crash experts said Mr Richardson, who now suffers flashbacks and depression, would have had no time to take evasive action.

Vater told police he was travelling around 60mph prior to the collision. The speed limit was 50mph.

It also emerged one of his tyres was significantly under inflated, and that he had a 20kg bag of cement mix in his boot.

Crash investigators concluded his speed, poorly inflated tyre and significant load may have contributed to the collision.

Vater, who was working as a carpenter, was also running late for work. He denied speeding in order to make up time.

Barrister Robert Grey, representing Vater, said his client had admitted losing control of his car to police, saying he started to lose control on the corner, briefly regained control, then lost it again seconds before the impact.

Mr Grey said: “The defendant himself is deeply affected by all that has happened.

“He has suffered mental trauma and depression.

“Above all he has the knowledge that he is responsible for someone’s death, and that will always be with him for the rest of his life.

“He is devastated by what has happened. It has been a life-changing experience for many people involved in this accident, and he is one of these people.”

SENTENCING Vater, Judge Brian Forster QC said he believed the defendant was “genuinely remorseful” for his actions.

Judge Forster told the defendant, who was of previous good character and had no driving endorsements prior to the crash: “You were driving too fast, driving towards a bend – you clearly lost control of your car.”

The judge reiterated concerns over the poorly inflated tyre and the load in his boot.

“These factors may have contributed to your loss of handling as you approached the bend.”

He also noted Vater had been running late on the morning in question, but acknowledged the defendant said he had not been in a hurry.

“Hannah was a special person, she cannot be replaced,” said Judge Forster. “She is missed by her family, she is missed by her friends.

“She was clearly much-loved, a woman who contributed considerably to the community.”

Vater was also banned from driving for three-and-a-half years.

HANNAH Richardson’s younger sister, Francesca, said the “void left by Hannah’s absence will never be filled.”

Holding back tears, Francesca described her big sister in her victim impact statement as “a ray of sunshine” and said she “struggled to comprehend the future” without Hannah at her side.

She said: “I feel guilty for not absolutely treasuring every moment with Hannah.

“It hurts me now knowing I will never hear her laugh again.

“I cannot begin to image how Hannah’s husband, Stuart, and her daughter feel.”

Stuart Richardson, whose victim impact statement was read out to the court, revealed he is still dealing with the physical pain of the crash – as well as the devastation his wife’s death has caused.

Mr Richardson said he is “constantly on the verge of tears” and “cries most days.”

He described his memories of the day of the accident as “awful, terrible and terrifying.”

Since his initial hospital treatment he has had to undergo a further operation on his back, with medics telling him he’s likely to experience some physical pain for the rest of his life. He’s also being treated for depression and has regular flashbacks.

“When I work with a different colleague,” Mr Richardson said, “I dread the inevitable conversation that is coming.

“Do you have any children? Are you married?”

In his victim impact statement, Alan Telford, Hannah’s father, said: “Your life was cut short by the stupid actions of a complete stranger.”

Meanwhile her mother wrote: “I will love, remember and miss her for the rest of my life.”